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2206 : Window Onto A New World Book I in The Threshold

Chapter XIV – Silent Talking

By

Christopher Stewart ★ Bookcast Edition – May 2012


Copyright © 2012 by Christopher Stewart

★ All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

★ Bookcast Edition - May 2012

★ This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.


Chapter XIV

Silent Talking  What has triggered the resurgence of the Allenists is not clear to me. There seems to have been a rekindling of sorts about 60 years ago, yet after searching history books for major events that could explain the state of affairs, I've found nothing satisfactory. I guess they've felt their dominion was threatened by who knows which emergence. That movement must have been successfully subdued though, because there's no mention of spiritual uprisings during that period. Either that or they're very good at covering evidences. They've been very clever too in turning our old churches into the mockeries wherein they hold their so-called services. Churches have become associated with entertainment, stand-up comedians, and what not. It only makes me appreciate more what Aeira has done with her chapel. Reconverting an orthodox church back to its original purpose couldn't be a more appropriate response to the threat they pose, even to themselves, with their constant deriding and undermining of anything that resembles faith. It's a bold statement. It's totally like her. And I must admit that in that respect, our church is very much in your face too.  – Excerpted from Olivia Romero's Personal Communications with Councillor Roberta Ludwig, 3.2203


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XIV. Silent Talking

O

livia Romero mused that things had unquestionably changed , and not all of them

necessarily for the better. Instead of having her chauffeur drive her through the heavy traffic, as she habitually would, she had stayed at work a little longer than normal and taken the monorail to her appointment. As she rushed out of the public transit station, she reckoned that, though walking by herself in the heart of Triton Aeolus was not the safest strategy given her functions, no one would try to attack her at the still early hour, just around dinner. The numerous passersby who crowded the streets on that exceptionally sunny day would shelter her. The environmentalist reflected that the weather had gotten increasingly unpredictable over the course of the latest decade or so. Chilly temperatures had become all the more frequent during what was supposed to be the hot season. The situation had even reached the point where actual hot days were uncommon. Thus, whenever such an opportunity occurred, citizens gladly left the comfort of their residences in masses to bask in the warmth and enjoy the soothing feeling of the naturally heated air on their skin. Momentarily amused by the thought that, most probably, muggers would also be taking time off, she yet remained on her guard in the unlikely eventuality that her hypothesis would prove untrue. Such preoccupations wouldn't have crossed her mind back when she had first set foot in the megapolis, the quinquagenarian fondly recollected. It had been almost forty years already. She was among the original generation of Ovelians born aboard a space station. She had not even visited the homeland before making the bold decision of moving down there as a young adult. Settling in Neo Delphi, a neighbouring city, to attend Parnassus University, she had immediately fallen in love with the planet, its impossibly vast, seemingly unlimited outdoors, and its incredible biodiversity. In fact, the attraction had been so overwhelming that, after only minimal consideration, she had altered her plans and chosen to study ecology, of all subjects for an off-worlder, eager to deepen her knowledge of the apparently inexhaustible source of amazement. The woman remembered that she had not only fallen in love with an extraordinarily rich new world, finally experiencing it after having merely seen it from afar, and via simulations, pictures, and films. She had also fallen in love with one of its inhabitants. From love at first sight, a serene romance had bloomed between her classmate and her, for most of their curriculum. And then, she had gotten pregnant. Literally overnight, the unexpected development had dramatically complicated her almost idyllic existence. Their relationship had rapidly degraded, and the irresponsible father had ultimately abandoned her in the middle of their next to last academic session. Fleeing at the end of the semester, the petty man had never surfaced again. Devastated, having flunked too many of her classes, short of options, she had dropped out of school and found a full-time job that she had kept until a few weeks The Threshold

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before the delivery. She had paid for the too big apartment all by herself. Following that awful period, lucky enough to be quickly granted access to social housing, she had subsisted on welfare. However, that had meant relocating to the significantly larger capital where she didn't have any close friends. If the crash course in motherhood had obviously turned out to be genuinely invaluable, the often rewarding challenge had also entailed more than its fair share of pains and frustrations, or so the public figure recalled. Not that it had lacked delightfully pleasant times. Quite the contrary, rising her only son Francesco on her own had provided her with some of her dearest memories. Indeed, just as the unanticipated maternity had ushered in numberless new constraints and concerns, it had also brought her the saving grace, the inspiration, the reservoir of energy she had required, in the person of her baby. Through the stress and the countless difficulties the cosmos had thrown at them, by his mere presence, her beloved child had sustained her. Still, she couldn't forget the many sacrifices she had been forced to make. Romero reminisced how, without her diploma, and jaded by a series of dead-end jobs, she had taken a chance and applied for work at the social service center to which she had resorted during her gestation, and that she had consulted regularly after the birth of her boy. In spite of her misgivings, they had hired her. She had derived inestimable empowerment from counselling the pregnant girls who requested help from the public organization. Her satisfaction at her new life had far outweighed the inconvenient daily commute. Though exacting, her own tribulations had transformed her into a resilient and wise role model who had soon received praise from the clientele. Feeling increasingly beckoned by greater things, she had then successfully led various community projects to completion, tangibly improving the conditions of those like her who had learned the hard way how unrelentingly demanding the reality of the less fortunate could be. Over the years, cultivating determination and efficiency, she had grown to be a formidable adversary, often winning her negotiations and battles against the different levels of governmental administrations. Thence, transported by her triumphs, taking the step to the political arena had been almost natural. But her only attempt at getting elected wasn't one of the favourite recollections of the former social worker. A growing interest in environmental issues, an ineluctable consequence of her peculiar passion for Ovelian ecology, had compelled her to militate. Her involvement had eventually earned her the title of activist in the media. The Green Party had taken notice and approached her to run for office as representative of Neo Apollonia in the Global Chamber. Still, regardless of her flourishing local popularity, the low visibility of the Greens on the political radar in the historically essentially bipartite system had proved a virtually impossible obstacle to overcome. Moreover, considering that the Conservatives had maintained the state among their strongholds ever since the establishment of the Federation, to the exception of a few mandates, her efforts had understandably remained fruitless. Following the discomfiting outcome, she had happily resumed defending her cherished causes, until the Neo Apollonian National Government had unexpectedly proposed her as Chief Environmental Adviser, first on an interim basis, and permanently when it had become clear that she was plain and simply the most qualified candidate available. The Threshold

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Before the heaven-sent nomination, the quinquagenarian had known a life characterized by omnipresent restrictions. She reflected that all the years of dedication, raising her darling Franqueso, and crusading on behalf of others, had decidedly paid off from a moral perspective. Yet, while they had contributed to repel scarcity further and further away, they had never afforded her that definite experience of freedom she had hankered for. Circumstances had conspired and obligated her to stay on Ovel, irrespective of her original intent of going back home after her studies. If that program had somewhat lost its appeal once she had discovered the charms of the planet, on many occasions, as a single young mother, she had contemplated returning to the all-relative security of living with her parents onboard Harmonia One. Still, even at those junctures when it had seemed the best alternative forward, some obstruction or another had prevented the move. And then, there had always been too many needs and not enough means, too many responsibilities and not enough rights, too much work and not enough time, too much uncertainty and not enough reassurance, too many injustices and not enough vindications. More sorely, there had been too much desire and not enough love. In retrospect, it appeared that whenever she had escaped her own chains, however briefly, she had promptly joined her peers in their own quests for liberty. And so, limitations, under their many guises, had constantly surrounded her. The public figure appreciated how the privileges and comforts conferred by her new position enabled her to make her peace with most of her past frustrations, at long last. In turn, this enhanced lucidity allowed her to discern, and accept, that there was no other way to heal the affective wounds wreaked by the departure of the father of her sole child than to forgive the man and his cowardice, sincerely and unconditionally. She had never known since him such an enchanting romance, and she was learning that the resentment she nurtured, and suffered, towards him had only delayed the prize she yearned for, the opportunity to try again, with someone she genuinely loved. Yet, every now and then, amidst the serene mending, one matter burdened her, one regret she couldn't shed once and for all. She was still waiting for her wish for a second chance to obtain her bachelor's degree in ecology to be granted. Despite knowing that she would have indubitably led an utterly different life had she completed the curriculum as planned, she couldn't help but feel that, somehow, the cosmos owed her that much. Or maybe she was the one being unfair, Romero wondered as she recognized the distinctively shaped church of the Community not too far ahead in the distance, reminded by the unique edifice that she had also received her share of blessings. Indeed, her second chance had probably come after all, but she had chosen otherwise. The friendships she had fostered in the disfavoured suburb of the megapolis had blossomed into an essential part of her world. She had been fortunate enough to forge deep bonds of amity with Aaren and Bernard. And indisputably, Aeira was the person she was the closest to, except perhaps for her own Francesco. Had it merely been pure luck ? And was there such a thing ? The environmentalist pondered the notion as she recalled how she had met the prophetess, walking in a small public park nearby her The Threshold

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apartment, one particular day of dire distress, following another painful breakup that had ultimately snowballed into her being fired from a job she didn't like but badly required. The older woman had first been her listener, then her counsellor, and then her soothsayer, before becoming her educator in all questions spiritual. They had also collaborated during some of the most demanding battles she had fought, and very naturally, effortlessly, they had ended up as best friends. The once off-worlder had moreover consented to give the benefit of the doubt to the religious order the perceptive lady was a member of, and thanks to her persevering encouragements, she had eventually attended one of their introductory gathering. There, she had realized how the principles and values the disciples cultivated and furthered corresponded to her own philosophy and were relevant to her preoccupations. She had found a group of similarly disposed people with whom she shared a kinship, and on whom she could rely in difficult times. Together, they had explored life's more rewarding pathways. Their assistance had surely contributed to her growing into a better individual. As she was approaching the singular building, the quinquagenarian retraced her progress up the various levels of the hierarchical organization. Beginning as simple guest, she had undergone the initiation, and gradually climbing the steps, she had finally been nominated as Abbess and accepted the charge of administrating the affairs of the congregation. She had even directed the whole flock after the decease of the Popess, in the interim preceding the confirmation of Aeira as her successor. Deserving of each promotion, she had studied the teachings, integrated the knowledge, mastered the practices, developed the abilities, faced the challenges, passed the tests, and earned the advancement. The former social worker had always deemed rather odd the fact that, unlike the Community itself, whose adherents generally attempted to comply with conventional recommendations and stay discreet about their affiliation, the church was paradoxically blatantly conspicuous. The remarkable structure consisted in a four-storey cylindrical tower with walls of shaded glass that conferred it a mirror-like appearance, crowned by a dome of the same material. Whereas a too austere look would definitely have marred the place, the designers had nevertheless matched the original architecture of the churches which had been erected, millennia earlier, by those who had founded the movement. Still, the resulting creation was so radically different from the adjoining constructions, mainly houses and low apartment blocks, as to be virtually unmissable. Functionally, the shiny edifice also served as observatory, just as the buildings that had inspired its shape had also been used to watch the skies in ancient times, though there clearly had been no hemispherical roofs of glass available back then. The ancestral structures had been preserved from one generation to the next, and likewise, the treasured discoveries of the order had been transmitted, mostly orally, throughout the years. From its roots on the old continent, in that region of the world which had become in part a Milagenian province, while the mountainous remnants of the territory had been claimed by K천rgus, the neighbouring state, the culture had somehow flourished as its proponents had migrated. Emerging in numerous locations all over the globe, as it had done right at the heart of Triton Aeolus, it had once been the dominant faith on the planet. But since then, consequently to the increasing presence of the Allenists, it had slowly declined to an often marginalized sect.

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At last entering the peculiar church after the unusually extensive walk, Romero was glad to see her good friend waiting for her in the hall. The prophetess cordially greeted her, silently, with a smile and kisses on her cheeks, and the two women swiftly headed towards the spiralling staircase on their way to the observatory. On each floor, the stairway covered a quarter of the circumference of the tower as it rose to the next level. An outer corridor completed the perimeter, encircling a series of small rooms which themselves surrounded the inner chamber, a central assembly area spanning the height of the building and wherein the disciples would gather for the ceremonies. Utility rooms and offices mostly occupied the ground floor, the second storey principally hosted training facilities and studies, along with a diminutive library, while living quarters and meditation booths were on the third level. As the two ladies ultimately reached the fourth floor, the priestess was comforted by the sight of the Cerberus, sitting on the opposite side of the parquet. She had instructed him to ascertain that the place was devoid of intruders, whether biological or mechanical, and to stick around during the conversation to ensure that nobody would surveil the decision makers. The man looked nothing like his title suggested. He was a quite short, frail yet paunchy individual, balding, dishevelled, unshaven, with long grey hair and dark, thick framed round glasses. He wasn't wearing anything that resembled the typical uniforms of security agents, nor the traditional robes common to the other members. He could have pretended to be the retiring janitor and indeed fooled most of those who weren't aware of the import of his role. He approached the two authority figures, peacefully grinning and bowing to both of them in respect, and continued to a nearby chair, staying quiet all the while. The quinquagenarian mused that the domed expanse was among her preferred environments. The top storey was simply an open space which could be reorganized according to the requirements of the moment. Since a service was scheduled for later that evening, the circular guardrail had been raised to isolate the middle of the room, and the various seats, recliners, lamps, and folding screens had been moved alongside the walls, with the stargazing equipment. Thus, the floor enclosed by the railing could be safely slid opened, in a fashion similar to an iris, allowing the attendants to worship stars and other celestial orbs and objects from down below. The Popess had requested that the vast place be kept desert so the Abbess and her could be free to communicate without distractions. They had pressing matters to address, including points of the agenda of the Community Council. Some of the topics just couldn't be mentioned in front of the novices, or in fact anybody who wasn't admitted to the conference. The former social worker turned towards the transparent wall and marvelled in admiration at the incredible vista, delighted by the spectacular panorama of the sunny megapolis. But the beautiful scenery rapidly became invisible as she started to ponder what was about to occur. If brainstorming with the elder could be a pleasant and elevating experience, it could also be a very demanding ordeal in terms of concentration and self-confidence, especially when they had to sort out Council-related issues. Although to an unwitting observer the two women would merely appear to be sitting face to face, staring at each other, silent, immobile, and expressionless, they would actually be exchanging The Threshold

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information at an uncannily fast rate, not having to voice their meanings. Because of the irritating impression the exercise produced, it called for an exceptional degree of tolerance. And as rewarding as it could be, it necessitated genuine acceptance of one's own vulnerabilities and shortcomings. Still, the telepathic process, sheltered by the physical and psychic protection of the Cerberus, guaranteed virtually absolute concealment. – –

« Shall we begin ? » Aeira proposed from across the domed space. « Oh, sorry » Romero apologized at once, her reflections disrupted, smiling as she glanced at her friend, « sure » she went on somewhat reluctantly as she headed in the direction of the wise counsellor, walking around the guardrail to the other side of the area.

Hearing noise behind her, the public official peeked over her shoulder and saw the guardian as he stood up and pushed his chair towards the top of the stairway, to the spot she had just vacated. The frail man positioned the piece of furniture with its back to the wall, close to the edge of the first step, and sat, diametrically opposite to where the soothsayer had setup seats for the two ladies. The situation would enable him to monitor the event and to prevent undesirables from interrupting it. As she reached her place, the environmentalist rested her briefcase on the floor to the left of the armchair and sat facing the prescient septuagenarian, both of them looking down to indicate they were not yet ready. After a little while, still preparing herself to undergo the quiet conversation, she intuited the older disciple lifting her head and staring at her. Then, following one more minute or so of intent focus, the bronze skinned woman breathed deeply and audibly, and finally met the gaze of the Popess. –

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{ Jake is on his way to the Chancellery } commenced the prophetess, { it is unfolding just as we hoped, our plan is proving fruitful, no obstacles have come into view, I can feel your last doubts subsiding, allow it, don't resist } { I'm sorry to have questioned your judgement } { Your humility is already making you stronger, your faith is increasing, soon it will afford you to achieve as much as Bernard and I } { Your abilities are impressive } { Don't be intimidated, this is something each of us have the capacity to develop, consent to it, admit it, don't suppose it is out of your grasp for it is not, you have travelled further than you realize in the recent year } { Are you just encouraging me ? } { Trust ! Don't question ! The answer is irrelevant, the results will be the same, but your worry can affect the outcome } { I understand, I'm sorry, thank you, I can trust this } { That's better, let the thought flourish, bask in it, you've deserved it ! Good ! }

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{ Thank you ! This is making me so joyful ! } { Support it with all your confidence, it is so powerful, you've nurtured it well, just allow it to sustain this aspiration } { The possibilities are infinite ! It's overwhelming ! Oh ! I'm afraid ! What if I'm not ready ? What if I go too far ? } { Stay calm, stay with that fear, good ! Recollect the challenges you've faced before, recall how you've rose to them brilliantly, this is no different, in fact, see how it's easier, recognize this is the fun part ! } { Fun... yes ! I can see, yet I find it hard not to imagine hindrances } { Don't be deterred, expecting difficulties is an acquired mechanism for many of us, but it is avoidable, remember to see it as an obsolete template which needs not be invoked anymore, replace it with trust } { Yes, trust, I remember, thanks ! } { Just allow this to become true } { Allow, yes, let my imagination soar, this is so exhilarating, there are so many possibilities, will there be limits to my power ? } { Resist this line of questioning, there is nothing to gain from it, have faith that your power will grow to the extent of your capacity to manage the responsibilities it entails, trust you'll never be asked for more than you can supply } { Okay, I can trust this, so I can reach as high as I wish, higher than the Councillors, higher than you, higher than every – } { Olivia ! } { Oh ! I did it again ! I'm ashamed, I'm so ashamed, I should know better by now } { Don't be embarrassed, self-advancement is powerful, deeply rooted in many, be forgiving, remember where comparing yourself to others leads to } { Error ! I know, I must remain mindful, it's about becoming a better individual, not becoming better than others, not about competition, you agree, thank you ! } { Good ! } { And I must remain mindful of my expression, your eyes see my embarrassment } { Excellent ! This deserves much praise ! Keep noticing } { Thanks Aeira ! } { Please concentrate now, we have many points to address } { Bernard and you have risen to the occasion, and spectacularly so, the Councillors should be most satisfied, we have someone to defend our cause } { Please help me convince them that we must now all share the responsibility } { I know the whole Council ordered him back then, but you two have been selected to see to it because of your powers of manifestation } { There's a possibility that Bernard will waver, I've seen it }

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{ Will my influence will be enough ? } { It is greater than you know } { How could he fail us ? } { He has aims of his own } { I thought colonization was our common aim } { Colonization is our aim inasmuch as it is the means to our larger aims } { That's certainly new ! And what are our larger aims ? Why aren't you allowing me to see them ? } { You know what we stand for Olivia, as far as the rest is concerned, it is too soon for you to know } { The Council is asking me for a lot of trust ! } the Abbess replied, appearing increasingly restless on her chair. { Don't resist ! Have we ever let you down before ? } { There's always more to do ! What's this ? I must facilitate the colonization initiative now ? I'm asked to promote it because of where I come from ? } { Don't resent your origins, this is one of your knots, don't tighten it, your visibility will help us, you'll see soon } { Soon ! I'm weary of soon ! When will I receive my dues ? } { Remember they all bind us one way or another, they bind you with love, you know I know how it hurts } { Knowing doesn't make it hurt any less ! } the former social worker maintained, her upper body twitching with sharp, spasmodic motions, and her face contracting in aversion. { You know the routine, it's either all the way or not at all, you've made your choice a while ago, you have to trust it }

Romero couldn't sustain the telepathic connection any longer, so she averted her eyes from the intense stare of the prophetess, first glancing at the transparent wall on her left, then promptly looking at the floor right in between the two of them. She had drifted off course, and she knew how. Whenever she thought that her own prayers would remain unanswered, whenever she feared that the Community was somehow exploiting her, whenever she imagined that her efforts only benefited others, the results were almost instantaneous. As if mechanically, doubt would inevitably fire up the flares of frustration, cast the chains of cynicism upon her, and finally drop her into the deep dungeon of despair. The dreadful place was already too familiar to the quinquagenarian. She had to avoid falling down that sinister spiral at all costs. What alternatives were there but to accept the process ? She had to realign herself with the objectives, agree to do what was required of her, and keep believing that it would lead to the prized destination. Yet, there was always more discoveries, more deeds to be done, more demands. And what about her own wishes ? The encouraging signs were so few and hard to The Threshold

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come by ! However, while part of her wanted out, she knew she couldn't simply give up at that stage. How sorely had she learned the consequences ! She was too well aware that she would merely have to begin anew and eventually confront a similar challenge in a different context. Trying to figure out how to escape her plight was pointless. Ultimately, forward was the quickest and most efficient road. And the status quo wasn't an option. She had to resume going forward. Again. The environmentalist started to focus on her breathing, hoping the tenacious uncertainties would subside. She knew she just needed to find a satisfying interpretation of her circumstances, one positive perspective that would allow her to pursue the project, one sufficiently immediate incentive to counteract the ephemeral pessimism, and she would snap out of it. And strangely, that very same observation was all it took. She was clearly getting better at warding off the painful upshots of her passing faithless weaknesses, and that was invaluable by itself. Perhaps the promised rewards stayed distant, but at least her own growth was indisputable. She was obviously already profiting from the ordeal. As a matter of fact, her individual development was possibly the sole truly worthwhile goal after all, and in that respect, her progress was measurable. With that constatation, her cheerfulness was back, her head was rising, and her eyes were eager to meet those of her best friend.

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{ You got of it brilliantly ! Impressive ! You're improving even as we speak, do you see how far you've come ? } { Thanks Aeira ! I will help you convince the Councillors } { Bernard's powers of manifestation might be even stronger than mine } { I see, and the task is too important for them not to help you, I'm sure they'll understand } { You'll willingly collaborate, I am much grateful ! } { All the way or not at all ! } { Now you're concerned ? } { We have to do something about the Syndicate } { Them bureaucrats again ! I don't think we have any reason to fear them, or to do anything at this juncture } { Many disciples have reported being harassed by them recently, what if one of their agents successfully breaks one of our people ? } { I haven't seen any cause for concern coming from their direction, as long as no one from the Council is involved, they cannot do that much harm } { Yet they could acquire some of the powers } { The only powers within their reach are naturally available to all anyhow } { Apparently they don't know that } { Teaching some of them would only make matters worse, it would rapidly go out of hand } { In upholding the tradition we would be able to guide them } { Tradition is not universal rule, I don't believe it would be appropriate in this instance } { Let me see why not }

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{ They only care about their organization, they aren't concerned with the wider implications of their decisions, we would soon lose them to their own aims as they would obtain some of the powers } { The same thing can happen to any of us at the beginner levels } { Evidently, but with the CSS our safety would be at risk, most ordinary disciples don't have that kind of reach, the ramifications of the Syndicate cover a surprisingly large scope } { Exactly, we could teach them basic skills, remote vision, influence, and enhanced intuitive abilities, and in return require their organization to serve our objectives, you always advise to favour cooperation over competition } { I often do } corrected the priestess, her mouth contracting barely perceptibly, { however in this case, they would rapidly figure out there are higher levels, and then they wouldn't accept being confined to beginner ranks any longer, they would demand to know more } { The higher powers we have to protect at all cost } { Just imagine if they merely knew about the existence of parallelism, priority of intention, or universal knowledge } { They could never develop those abilities without first aligning their aims with ours } { Evidently, but would they believe that this restriction is real ? Their suspicions towards us suggest that they would rather think we are deliberately keeping them in the dark, and thus they would do awful things, their methods are well-known, they would try to force us to use our powers against our best interests, in their aims, or they would use the law against us to eradicate us if we don't comply, or simply for the threat we pose } { But as long as they don't know the full story – } { Our secrets keep us safe, yes, the leaders of their union fear us precisely because they don't know the full extent of our powers, and yet, they can't run the risk of getting rid of us without first discovering what they could gain from us } { I understand, but what do we reply to those who have had enough of their attempts } { We simply explain that our mysteries guarantee our security } { We could also tell them that resisting the attempts is part of the training } { That would surely work for some, yes, I encourage this } { There are also concerns about eventual infiltrations } { We explain that only gifted individuals can fool a Cerberus, such individuals are generally wise enough to avoid the trappings of joining the CSS } { Yet manipulation is a possibility } { We explain that if a need should arise, we can launch an operation to keep their agents at bay, our powers make this feasible, but at the cost of delaying our plans, and for now there are more pressing – }

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and hastily went down the stairway. –

« There's someone coming ? » inquired Romero.

The Popess nodded in the affirmative and put her index to her lips as she turned back to face her interlocutor, prompting her to remain quiet. –

{ We should pause } silently transmitted the prophetess.

The environmentalist immediately stared at the floor in front of her to suspend the process. The intermission was timely. Still, she couldn't help but notice that the communication hadn't been nearly as demanding as she had first recalled. The thought delighted her as it was another indication of her progress. She was manifestly becoming more fluid and thus more stable, more confident and thus more tolerant. Hearing the Cerberus walking back up, she lifted her head to look at him. « Please join us » instructed the white haired woman in a slightly raised voice. The guardian responded with a subtle bow and continued towards the two authority figures.

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« Who was it ? » asked the septuagenarian as the frail man approached. « A forgetful novice » chuckled the Cerberus. « Has there been any attempts ? » wondered the government official. « There are always attempts ! » laughed the guardian as he reached the ladies. « Some of the disciples are concerned » remarked the soothsayer, « they think the agents of the Syndicate are getting increasingly annoying » she explained pensively. « That matches my impressions » concurred the short man, grinning knowingly, « but I sense no cause for worry » he calmly suggested. « Could you please share what you know so we too may be at peace with the situation ? » respectfully requested the former social worker. « Of course » readily acquiesced the Cerberus, « as far as I know, you two have nothing to worry about, the CSS is not after you » he began with conviction, « and indeed, I'm under the impression that I've caught more would-be infiltrators lately » he declared reflectively, « but such waves of increased activity happen once in a while » the guardian noted, « and unless it lasts longer than normal, this is nothing to be concerned about » he proposed, visibly untroubled by the matter. « So, you're basically telling us there's nothing new » Romero summarized, « that none of the disciples are really at risk » she submitted with an air of relief. « Ahem... not quite » the grey haired man enigmatically replied.

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The Abbess hadn't anticipated such a reaction. She kept gazing at the Cerberus, her perplexed expression signifying beyond any doubt that she was hoping to obtain more details.

– –

« I sense this one situation which could develop into a serious, direct threat » announced the bespectacled man after a few seconds of silence, « but at the moment I'd say it's only a mere possibility » he quickly asserted. « Can you tell us more ? » promptly inquired the environmentalist. « Well, you have to understand how it works » answered the guardian, « when there are direct attempts on any of our members, I get definite impressions » he patiently observed, « but if the events are in preparation, or if the people involved are somehow remote from the Community, those impressions are only blurry shadows » he pointed out right away. « And who's involved ? » queried the quinquagenarian, once more appearing preoccupied.

The Cerberus wanted to speak, but he glanced at Aeira, as if he had felt the need to receive her approval first. He watched the prophetess who stayed quiet as she stared fleetingly into his eyes before she reflexively motioned to look at her friend, lowering her head as soon as she met the gaze of the public official, holding it down as she started to talk. – –

« You may leave us now » commanded the prescient elder, « I'll take it from here » she went on in a warmer voice, « thank you » she ultimately offered, dismissing the frail man. « As you wish » politely obeyed the guardian, peeking one final time in the direction of the governmental expert with slight embarrassment, and then returning to his place on the other side of the circular room.

Romero was very eager to pursue the soundless conversation, expecting the seer to confirm the identity of the person who faced the potential menace, but it was the other lady who hesitated this time. Prior to the encounter, the priestess had intuited glimpses of the evolving nexus the Cerberus had referred to, and she was very well aware that, should the former social worker discover too much about the state of affairs, she could negatively influence the development of the delicate coalescence. So the Popess wisely focused her mind on a related yet different enough issue, allowing the sensitive thoughts to gradually subside in the background and out of view. – – – –

« Shall we continue ? » requested the bronze skinned woman in an insistent tone. « Of course » respectfully acquiesced the visionary after a moment, waiting a little while longer before slowly straightening up and resuming the telepathic communication. { I guess it's too early for me to know, so please just let me see what I must see } { Thank you }

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{ It's about Bernard isn't it ? } { Yes, it involves Bernard } { Why can't I know more ? } { This must not be prevented } { Not if it poses a threat to the Community ! } { There, you have your answer } { I don't understand } { You're afraid } { Oh, yes, I see } { This we should support, not resent } { But I feel there's a loss implied } { Yes, you are correct, yet it's the shortest way } { Who ? } { When you can trust we will let you know } { Is it you ? } { Bernard has contacted me – } { You're changing the subject } { His circumstances are – } { You're changing the subject ! } { Please let it go, as much as I would like to tell you, I can't, please trust me } { I'm sorry }

The Abbess immediately closed her eyes, once again needing to interrupt the connection, as the revelation, however vague, was imperilling the stability of the entire process. Unnerved by the impression that something bad would happen to someone from the Community or its entourage, she yet knew she had to resist imagining who it might be, lest her emotions come into play, and distort the whole picture. She could hardly bear the idea that through her inaction one of the disciples would have to endure who knew what pains. Still, challenging the discernment of the person in charge of giving its direction to the congregation was not an option. If she had to trust, she would. For now, not knowing was possibly for the best, as no ensuing guilt nor powerlessness would bring her down. Perhaps, she should be grateful that the unsettling matter remained out of her hands altogether. The notion seemed like a good anchor point from where to regain her composure, so she concentrated on it. Soon, she was ready to reopen her eyes, and return to the conversation.

– – –

{ Okay, where were we ? } { Bernard circumstances are changing } { Yes } { A new team has been created to study the Opportunity from Veshtar }

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– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

– –

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{ Yes, it has come to my attention, how does that impact us ? } { His former superior leads that new team } { So we have to support him during the transition, while he establishes a relationship with his new boss } { He has a new assistant too } { So I see, yes, I will research their respective backgrounds } { Thank you, what he's working on is of crucial import for us } { One more thing that's hidden from me ! Oh, I'm sorry ! Why am I thinking about Aaren ? He has found out about Bernard ! He has spied ! But why ? } { The Alliance wants to collaborate with us } { You knew and you didn't warn him ? } { I'm confident it serves our cause, it was time for Aaren to make some discoveries } { Don't you think it's premature, he's still a beginner } { His test is coming } { What are they offering ? } { They can help Jake get elected } { I thought you said he was on his way to – } { Nothing is certain until it has come to pass } { They are in position to help us, there's no doubt about it } { We can use their help } { And what are they asking for ? } { They want Jake to help them benefit from the colonization program } { And we are supposed to influence him ? } { Isn't that why we're placing him up there ? } { I'm not so sure, it's one thing to help a politician reach a position where they can speak up for what we stand for, but it's quite another to treat them as our puppet } { This is something the Councillors and I have discussed long and hard, before you even joined us as a novice } { I can imagine, yet according to tradition, the Community is not supposed to meddle in the affairs of the Federation } { Well, it's way too late for that, that decision has been taken already, you newcomers are so much more respectful of tradition than we are, and many of what some of you consider to be traditional recommendations are in fact merely adaptations to the Allenist threat } { Aeira ! } { Sorry Olivia, I didn't mean to offend, but the separation of Church and state is a simplistic, outdated idea, it could only be practicable if each and every official were agnostic, obviously, most people have their beliefs, and that includes the Allenists }

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– – – – – – – –

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{ You always advise to inspire and elevate, not to influence } { I often say that the former is preferable to the latter, yes } the Popess rectified, her mouth again contracting, just slightly, { and whenever I can inspire I do, but in this instance I don't have much choice } { I don't know what drives you through this, you surely seem very eager to see this happen } { I am simply doing what's needed for the order to reach its aims } { If you say so } { Olivia ! } { Sorry Aeira, but I have my visions, I know where I'm headed and why I'm doing all this, but sometimes I can't help but wonder what yours might be } { And that's generally when I repeat that I prefer to keep them to myself, can we get back to the point ? } { Sorry, yes } { Our prayers have been heard, we have been given a rare chance, we have met a man who is perfectly suited for the job, who has innate abilities that make him a natural leader, and who is really at his best when in power } { And we offer him power so that he helps further our cause ? } { Don't forget that our cause was already his cause, and that it is also the cause of the many Ovelians who are oppressed by the present regime } { You're right, sorry, I need some perspective } { We have responded to this chance, and now it is asked of us to respond again } { You think that helping the Alliance is part of the process ? } { It trust it is, theirs might just be the insurance we need } { I agree, I can accept that } { At this juncture, what's asked of us is that we successfully convince the secessionists of our willingness to collaborate, we don't even have to deliver results } { You think an agreement will be sufficient } { More to the point, an agreement is what the Alliance is asking for, they are not demanding a formal commitment on Jake's part } { Because they're aware of the trends, there's a possibility he'll be elected even without their intervention, they can't guarantee they'll make the difference } { We have plenty to gain } { And not much to lose } { I don't see any more objections } { I agree that this can be a way forward, I'm sure the Councillors will agree too } { We have no other Council-related matters to discuss for now } { There's something else you want to talk about, where is this ? }

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« We can do this aloud » concluded the prophetess in a commanding manner, promptly withdrawing her gaze from that of her interlocutor, standing up and busying herself with replacing her chair alongside the others. « Okay » Romero uttered after a few seconds of shock, surprised at how abruptly Aeira had terminated the exchange.

The former social worker peered across the floor, hearing the Cerberus as he walked down the stairs. She then rose and moved her seat near where the Popess had put hers. She knew her well enough to recognize that, if she was remaining there, facing the transparent wall, seemingly looking outside at the cityscape, it meant she was deeply bothered. Clearly, they had to address a particularly sensitive issue. –

– – –

« I'm sorry, Olivia » began the elder, « it's not that I don't trust you with this » she noted sincerely, wishing to spare the feelings of her friend, just barely turning her head in her direction, « but... » she hesitated pensively for an instant, « it might conjure up memories that I'm not prepared to explore » she declared as she motioned back to stare outwards. « It's okay, I understand » replied the quinquagenarian in a warm voice, « are you sure you want to talk about this now ? » she considerately suggested after a short while. « Yes » confirmed the seer, « sharing some of it will help » she hazarded following more deliberation, her wavering tone contrasting with her statement. « Thank you for your trust » kindly responded the environmentalist as she approached the unusually aloof woman.

The Abbess stayed quiet, standing beside the prescient lady, not really knowing whether she should wait or speak, enjoying the spectacle of the sun already setting down at the early hour, as the hot season was coming to an end. The minutes passed in silence, until the visionary finally started her story. –

« No one knows about this » the soothsayer first revealed, « no one I'm close to now » she quickly rectified, « not even Bernard, and he's the one I've told the most about my past » she pointed out, comforted by the thought, taking some more time to reflect, « I've never known my biological parents » she eventually announced out of the blue.

The governmental adviser didn't react, slightly perplexed. She had expected a more troubling disclosure. She almost expressed her incomprehension, but changed her mind as it occurred to her that she had been offered a mere preamble. « As such, it's a minor matter » the priestess carried on after a moment, as if aware of the musings of the public official, « it doesn't affect me that much, I rarely think about it » she observed right away, « merely once in a while, when I happen to see children, or when The Threshold

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clients have questions about their kids » she remarked with a touch of cheerfulness, « but it brings up the more disturbing ordeal of my youth » she mentioned gravely. The bronze skinned woman was suddenly conscious of the tension of the unfolding drama.

– – – –

« The staff at the hospital told me that I'd been found in the woods » the prophetess went on, « that I was in a coma, and badly battered » she recounted reluctantly, « all I can recall is waking up in the intensive care unit » she commented, glancing at her interlocutor. « Your adoptive parents did this to you ? » Romero supposed, quizzical, « they abandoned you there ? » she inquired eagerly. « I don't know who did this to me » Aeira simply answered. « You have no recollection of who did this to you ? » asked the once off-worlder, trying to figure out what had happened exactly. « I have no recollection of my life prior to that moment » the Popess asserted, manifestly shaken yet wanting to look strong.

The quinquagenarian acknowledged the scope of the affliction and readily sympathized. She knew from the behaviour of the elder that they were drawing close to one of the sensitive memories. Having experienced numerous similar scenarios back when she was counselling young mothers, she reckoned it was best to let her friend regain her composure before delving any further into the issue. Still, in all her years at the center, never had she encountered an instance of total retrograde amnesia, so she wasn't quite certain how to handle the situation. – –

– –

« How old were you when you woke up ? » wondered the environmentalist after a while. « Nobody knew for sure » the seer promptly responded, as if she had known what would be the next question, « they never established my identity » she declared wistfully, « they couldn't find a match for me in the databases... nobody corresponding to my description had been reported missing » she explained with incredulity, « it was just as if I had never existed before – » « But how long ago was this ? » insisted the Abbess, « I mean, were you a kid or – » « I was in my late teens » interrupted the prescient lady, « as the Webers had expressed interest in adopting me » she coldly reminisced, « the staff decided I was eighteen years old to facilitate the procedure » she revealed her attentive confidante.

Shocked, the governmental expert attempted to picture what having such a significant part of her life missing could be like. However, apart from seeing herself waking up in an unknown location, surrounded by strangers, and finding the idea scary, she couldn't really grasp what it all entailed. She remembered the time when she had moved to Ovel, as it probably was the closest circumstances she had known to the ordeal, and yet, it was evidently only remotely related. Envisioning oneself without a past was something else altogether, if indeed the state could be accurately imagined. The Threshold

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« It's as if my life began on the day I got out of the coma » noted the priestess, « before that, there's nothing » she pointed out, sounding disempowered. « What else can you recall from that period ? » queried the public official, feeling that all had not been said. « Not much really » replied the soothsayer, pausing for a few seconds, « lying in bed... all sorts of tests... the Webers visiting... physical therapy » she slowly enumerated, « talking with the staff » she lastly mentioned after a longer break, her tone changing at the end. « Talking about what ? » inquired the bronze skinned woman.

Romero respected the silence of the prophetess. They had reached one of the troubled areas, and through her work with pregnant girls, she had learned the futility of trying to force the process. At that stage, the words would come out of their own. And just as she was about to tell her friend to take all the time she needed, the words came out of their own. –

« I recall a nurse announcing me that I'd been... » the Popess sighed loudly, breathing for a while before resuming, « I'd been... raped... » she ultimately disclosed in a weaker voice.

The environmentalist motioned to hug the prescient lady who sensed her and backed away subtly, indicating that she didn't want the contact. The quinquagenarian then reflexively looked at the eyes of the elder who soon turned to reciprocate. At once averting her gaze to avoid invading her privacy, the Abbess could yet recognize that Aeira was containing pain with difficulty. – –

– –

« I have to admit that you're handling this a lot better than most women I've seen » the governmental adviser remarked after a moment. « Perhaps it is because, to this day, I still have no memory of the incident » rationalized the seer, facing the wall again, « when the nurse told me, I wasn't surprised, I wasn't in denial » she calmly recounted the event, « I couldn't remember how it had happened, but somehow I knew I had undergone the trauma » she observed, as she gradually regained her poise. « And you never found out who... did this ? » wondered the dark haired expert, getting increasingly stupefied the more she discovered the sad story. « The police investigated for a time » the priestess answered, « but the evidences they had led nowhere » she quickly explained, « eventually, they just dropped the whole matter, I guess they had more pressing cases to solve » she added with resignation.

It occurred to the public official that, over the duration of their relationship, never once had she noticed anything about the Popess that could have led her to suspect she was living with such a condition. Possibly, the elder had grown to accept her situation, and had not been suffering from it. Or at any rate, if she had, she had been extremely good at keeping the hurt to herself. Romero then The Threshold

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imagined what she could have done in similar circumstances. – –

– –

– –

– –

– – –

– – –

« Have you ever tried to contact your parents ? » the quinquagenarian submitted, « your biological parents, I mean » she promptly corrected. « Not seriously, no » began the visionary, « around the time of the incident, I had no idea of where to start » she reminisced, again with surrender, « I had no clue whatsoever about who I was » she firmly stressed, before pausing for a short while, « the staff had already searched and found nothing about me » the seer went on, « I figured it was hopeless » she concluded, regretful. « And later in life, the idea never crossed your mind ? » the former social worker carried on following a brief reflection. « After I left the hospital, I had to adapt » the prophetess commented, « I had a whole life to create... I had to make friends... and I had to get to know the Webers » she recollected, with a slight negative emphasis on the family name, « but we didn't get along that well, I didn't stay with them very long... only a few years » she digressed wistfully, « it was of crucial importance to me to have my own place » the soothsayer justified, « ultimately, I burned all bridges with them and relocated here » she tersely summed up, « and after that, I've been much more interested in the future than the past » she laughed softly, realizing as she did that she hadn't actually addressed the question. « I understand, but still, you must have considered it eventually ? » the environmentalist insisted, unsatisfied by the response. « Of course » acquiesced the prescient lady, « as I said earlier, the thought occurs to me now and then, when events remind me of it » she patiently reiterated, « but the prospect of a reunion has never held much interest for me » she lastly declared. « And it is preoccupying you now ? » reacted the Abbess in an interrogative tone. « Yes » replied the wise counsellor, finally turning her body to face her friend, « I've been having recurring visions lately » she announced, more enthusiastic, « I keep seeing the dark silhouette of a man, in some sort of... convent – » « The place I've seen when you... stood up » interrupted the public official, referring to the moment when the telepathic link had been abruptly broken. « Yes, exactly » the elder asserted. « I'd say it looks more like a monastery » opined the governmental expert, staring into the eyes of her interlocutor and seeing the location once more, { like those in the mountains of Kõrgus } { Yes, I recognize it too now that you point it out } « And you think those visions are connected to your past ? » asked the bronze skinned woman, again kindly withdrawing her gaze. « I'm convinced they are » Aeira immediately ensured, « I feel drawn to this place » she continued resolutely, « I feel it holds the key to my origins » she ultimately noted.

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« I suppose you have no memory of ever being there » hazarded the once off-worlder. « None whatsoever, exactly » the Popess concurred, « I don't remember ever visiting such a place » she further remarked, « if I have, it must have been prior to my... amnesia » she observed, hesitant to utter the word.

A deep, repetitive, mechanical noise reverberated in the circular room, startling Romero. In the center of the floor, the iris was gradually opening. Knowing it meant that the evening service was about to begin, she picked up her briefcase as the seer and her left in the direction of the stairway. – –

« You had hoped that parts of the past would reemerge » the administrator of the spiritual order perceptively submitted. « I know the past is in there somewhere » confirmed the prophetess, « it has to be » she maintained fervently, quieting for a while, as if needing to ponder the matter some more, « it's not time to access it yet » she then conjectured confidently, the guardian appearing in front of the duo as they reached the top of staircase, « thank you » simply offered the sagacious priestess to the frail man who grinned and respectfully bowed his head to the two friends as he stepped out of their way.

Having let the Popess and the Abbess walk past him, the Cerberus replaced his chair where he had originally taken it, peered one last time around the vast, empty area, and hastened to follow the two advanced disciples down the stairs.

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About the Series

A

t the turn of the century, Ovel must face the consequences of its accelerated growth. One

hundred and twenty seven federated countries and eleven sovereign nations, spread across the homeland and in colonies settled onboard orbiting stations and on a nearby planet. Fourteen billion inhabitants struggling to thrive under the rule of a corrupted Global Government, in power for over forty years. Fuelled by a recent scientific finding, the once in a lifetime discovery of a discontinuity in the cosmic fabric of the neighbouring space, a coalition of politicians is willing to stand up for the people and radically change things. Now relegated to the ranks of an obscure sect, the once dominant Community and its disciples must effectively handle the requirements of the Celestials to ensure that the most favourable of all possible destinies comes to pass. Meanwhile, halfway across the world, a young monk must learn to collaborate with the Enlightened Ones in order to successfully discharge the essential task he has accepted to fulfil in behalf of his monastery. Will the crucial 2206 electoral campaign climax on the emergence of a charismatic Progressive leader, or will the decried Chancellor prevail despite the many forces scheming for his downfall ? On a background of environmental and financial crises, and religious influences intertwining with political manoeuvres to determine the fate of the overpopulated orb, The Threshold chronicles the evolution of the Ovelian civilization as it heads towards unprecedented upheaval.

★ Contact Facebook Profile : https://www.facebook.com/the.threshold.2206 Google Plus Profile : https://plus.google.com/u/0/104660427672333556879

★ The Complete Edition of The Threshold - 2206 : Window Onto A New World is available in the following locations Kindle Format on Amazon ePub Format on Lulu


About the Author

C

hristopher Stewart loves to try his hand at various artistic endeavours, but if there's one discipline he's perfecting, it must be the art of blooming late.

He has studied for a long time, played football even longer, spent a significant part of his adult life developing software on a full-time basis and invested what remained in the pursuit of his ideal of creating meaningful music in the context of a rock ensemble. He has founded the prolific yet still album-less Quebec-based progressive rock outfit Poligraf in 1998 and has never been quite the same since. He has been practising Buddhism dead-seriously since the mid 90s, until he finally awakened to the fact that it teaches living happiness. His interests range from psychology, physics, and philosophy, to mysticism, divination, the arts and the creative process, and, obviously, multitasking and clichés. Pick any task, tag it with the word « impossible, » assign it to him, and he’ll be hard at work for years before the first suspicion finally pops in his mind.

★ Contact Email : christopher.stewart@gmail.com Facebook Profile : https://www.facebook.com/christopher.andrew.stewart Google Plus Profile : https://plus.google.com/114005406455037130049 Twitter Profile : https://twitter.com/poligraf

★ Also Available as eBooks On the Meaning of Sin


Credits Chapter Titles The titles are meant as a tribute to the musicians. Special thanks to the members of Yes for their musical genius, and to Jon Anderson in particular for sharing his vision with the world. Fonts Linux Libertine : http://www.linuxlibertine.org/ Vollkorn : http://friedrichalthausen.de/ Philosopher : http://jovanny.ru/ BorisBlackBoxx : http://manfred-klein.ina-mar.com/ Quirkus : http://www.peter-wiegel.de/ Ubuntu : http://font.ubuntu.com/ Liberation : from the Fedora Linux Distribution : http://fedoraproject.org/ Images 663highland : Omoromachi Station Software Open Office : http://www.openoffice.org/ FreeMind : http://freemind.sourceforge.net/ The Timeline Project : http://thetimelineproj.sourceforge.net/ Gimp : http://www.gimp.org/ Blender : http://www.blender.org/ References Most of my book design questions have found an answer on Joel Friedlander's The Book Designer : http://www.thebookdesigner.com/

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The Threshold Bookcast : Chapter 14 – Silent Talking