He stood there majestically unmoving, his long white hair waving slowly in the dimness, covering his forehead, his beard waving in ripples. He was wrapped in long, flowing, almost diaphanous robes, his arms covered by the robes as they stayed firmly crossed on his chest.
His eyes were closed, breathing in and out slowly. But of course, creatures like him really didn’t have a nose to breathe with, they pulsated.
He was there, but he also wasn’t. One moment in his time, and he seemed solid; another moment in his time, he seemed translucent. The next moment, he seemed gaseous. The flow of this transfiguration was one pulse. And his pulsating never ceased. So without even moving, it seemed he was moving.
And he really wasn’t standing on anything. He was floating in this black abyss. And his robes, not really robes, but an extension of his existence.
His robes had tendrils gracefully reaching in and out from all sides of his being into the abyss, like thin grasping little fingers.
These tendrils moved slowly, slowly here, slowly there, reaching out deliberately, confidently, with a determined sentience and curiosity, extending his perception of time, space, heat, cold, light, dark, movement, solid, gas, liquid, adding to his awareness, his knowledge, his understanding, his unity. Once they were able to pluck knowledge out of the ether, they would retract and disappear into his robe, then new tendrils would emerge and reach out again. His robes seemed eeriely alive.
He was surrounded by millions of small blinking lights, but the darkness was still overpowering those millions of lights, even if they hung in clusters slowly whirling around him ever, ever so slowly it was imperceptible, you would think they were not moving. You’d think he was one of those blinking stars because of his pulsating, but he had a different glow—the glow of all-consuming power, of omniscience.
He looked magnificent and glorious. And terrifyingly beautiful.
And he was contemplating everything. Like a God would do. In this part of the universe. His part. But Am was not a god. And that irritated him. He had made another mistake.
He opened his eyes and gazed with a frown at this small round rock in front of him, rotating on its axis as it revolved around this little ball of fire. He peered into it without stooping closer to this small round rock, and he saw….primordial plains rising above the liquid that covered its surface.
He sighed. “Too much liquid,” he thought.
He saw that only a small portion of the solid base was above the rippling liquid. Peering much closer, he saw a close-up vision of gusts of gas blowing over the liquid and the exposed solid. It was throwing up thin clouds of dust all around.
He muttered a “tsk” and bit his lips, his sigh resounding across the abyss like a dirge. And closed his eyes again.
Am looked startled as he turned to look at the short figure beside him. “What is it, To?” he asked, his frown getting more furrowed.
“The Revered One is coming!” fearfully whispered To, eyes locking into his. His head was at level with his shoulders, and a couple of tendrils reached out and caressed his taup-colored face.
Am groaned, and no sooner than he did so, a gentle voice wafted to his hearing, although he needed no ears to hear: “How goes your project, Am?” The gentle query was warm and modulated and soothing. It made Am feel something crawl up the back of his robe. Here was limitless power floating in front of him.
For a moment, Am looked thoughtfully away into the abyss, then his eyes turned back to the Revered One, answering with a cordial grin, “The project has been re-booted, and I am expecting genesis any moment!” He felt his grin was frozen on his bearded face, and he tried to relax it.
Before him was a bright formless light, much bigger than he was, and shimmering at the edges. The Revered One was dazzling, literally. There seemed to be an opaque figure cocooned in this bright light, but there was only a hint of a thin silhouette with six arms and thin legs and a large head.
The Revered One projected a smile towards Am and Am saw it in his mind. He asked, “Oh? Re-booted? And this is…?”
“…The eighth time, oh Revered One,” volunteered To. To caught Am staring at him with an even bigger frown, his white hair parted from his forehead in the middle by a pair of tendrils rising up from each of his shoulders exposing his third eye, and this eye was as equally wide open in surprise as the first two. All three eyes blinked together.
Am cleared his throat and looked back towards the Revered One, the tendrils allowing his hair to cover his forehead again. “It has come to my realization that repeatedly constructing and deconstructing my project allows its elements to integrate into itself the best permutation to aspire for. To has entertainingly referred to it as ‘practice makes perfect.’”
“And the elements retain the knowledge of what went before,” To volunteered again, causing Am to close his eyes for a moment before assuming a more placating look.
“But beloved Am, are we not perfect already?”
The dazzling formless light approached the little round rock. Three brightly-lit tendrils extended from him and hovered in a criss-crossing pattern over the rock. Am and To watched, unmoving and eyes struggling hard not to enlarge. Am’s third eye was again peering out with the help of two tendrils from his shoulders.
“Ahhhh…” Said the Revered One. He sounded…pleased.
“Ahhhh…” he repeated, to underscore the moment. “You have compressed a minuscule singularity into a dense speck inside this sphere’s core, and…” the Revered One motioned towards the ball of fire hovering nearby “…and this one is placed just so to counteract any indication of instability. Hmmm. Balance is attained.” The silhouetted head was nodding.
Am was smiling broadly, but had to swallow first before he could say, “Yes, that was the intention of the project, Revered One.” To was staring sideways at him with quizzical looks. No, it was not, he thought. Am caught the discreet thought and without looking at To flicked one of his tendrils at his back.
“Clearly, yes, you struck an appropriate balance,” continued The Revered One. “One singularity powering the fiery ball, and another speck imbedded in this little rock. But how long will it take to proceed to the next grade?” The Revered One sounded so gentle when he asked that.
“Ahmmm,” Am looked at To helplessly, but the Revered One had already started moving away, nodding.
“Nevertheless, your project will be completed in time, I am sure. Seven cycles of deconstruction is somewhat…unorthodox, especially if your preferred process seeks to purify first the random elements that will germinate, in time. The singularity speck will hasten the germination…” The Revered One stopped and turned to “look” back at Am. “However, the others felt no need to include this though. That was your intention, wasn’t it?”
Am nodded once with a slight smile, but To stood behind him hiding his puzzlement.
The Revered One considered Am, and was in thought. “Very well,” the Revered One finally resumed speaking as he moved away. “But you must know, there might be consequences using a speck, even if it is just a speck. The projects being conducted by Se, by Lo, by Kri and the partnership of Nal and An, your former understudy, needed only one deconstruction and they are germinating, I’m sorry, have germinated their designed pods. Their pods are in flux, evolved and have even started multiplying! No…specks…involved.”
“Really? I am impressed!” Am said in forced admiration. What does that make me? he thought. Am felt something clench somewhere down there.
The Revered One’s gentle voice was becoming distant. “Of course, each project has its own beauty and trait. I am sure yours will be unique as well, and the outcome fit to be our vessels….”
Am called after him, “Yes, Revered One, they most certainly will be…!”
The Revered One paused again. Without looking back, he called out, “Remember that your little speck can contaminate your pods and hunt them down, convert them not into the pure pods you are hoping for…” The Revered One’s voice trailed off into a haunting echo in the dark abyss as his light faded. He was gone.
Am continued looking at the spot where his visitor disappeared. To looked puzzled and turned towards Am.
“To, we are in deep shit.”
Am and To were peering into the round rock, excited by what they saw. “Your Grace, I can’t believe the fast development of the rock!” exclaimed in a whisper as his eyes looked in wonderment at the tiny things moving about on the surface of their project.
“I agree, my To, finally this is quite a pleasant turn of circumstances,” Am replied. Both of them had tendrils reaching down into the rock, and invisibly exploring the surface, probing the depths of the liquid, stabbing gently to peer under the surface of the rock. “But of course, we must be cautious. The Revered one is right: to have a speck inside the ball may have effects that may ruin our pods.”
They hovered over the round rock and watched as it revolved again and again around the ball of fire nearby. They stretched out their tendrils as well from where they were to monitor the exterior and interior of the ball of fire, making sure no untoward activity of the singularity was developing. But everything was stable, so far.
“Look, look!” To said excitedly, “there are things swimming in the liquid! And things crawling on the surface!”
“Hmmm, not only that, I see things flying around above them. See those green things? Once the dry mass above the liquid broke up and parted, these…things appeared. And they seem to be spreading all over.” He bent down a bit to look at the other areas. “There are white mists floating around. To, we need to go in for a closer look…”
And so it was that Am and To sent their avatars through their tendrils unto the rock’s surface. There at close hand the avatars touched and saw and smelled everything. Their tendrils tasted each item and found that it was good. They could also hear strange noises reverberating around the rock. A lot was happening, and they wanted to take everything in.
Their avatars travelled together far above the land, and on it; they separated to trek and explore the nooks, caves, and crannies, marveling at the new verdant things sprouting. Each experience was sent back up through their tendrils to their essences hovering in the abyss, and shared their discoveries with each other. They were relishing their creation, so pure and dynamic, and…alive.
“These are the requisites to support our project,” declared Am to To when they converged on one of the mountaintops. Together they looked down over the plain and appreciated the undulating liquid ebbing, swelling, and flowing, the corrugated surfaces of the plain, the precipitation (wet and cold), the jagged flashes of light, the invisible gases twirling and blowing, the things that were alive and moving: on the surface, under the liquid, floating in the air. “But,” predicted Am, “I expect the pods to be making their appearance soon.”
“Yes”, said To, “I saw some bipeds lumbering around in small groups in one of the larger cuts of the rock surface. But my probe did not detect any indication of sentient thought.”
“Not yet time, I suppose, dear To. It will be here soon, I am sure…”
“Did you notice these bipeds are drinking the liquid, and eating those other quadrupeds? And those things streaking above the plain…”
“Am!” A strident call suddenly reverberated through their tendrils, and echoed across the surface of the round rock and its rippling liquid. “AM!”
Their avatars had been too engrossed in the sensations they were feeling, their actual beings had been oblivious to the arrival of visitors.
Immediately, Am and To retracted their tendrils from the round rock, now teeming with activity and vibrance. In that very brief instant when they ascended from the ground, pulling up their avatars from the surface—just before they pierced through cloud cover, they saw their handiwork and marveled at their creation, with all the colors, the brightness, the movement, the smells, EVERYTHING.
“This is really good…!” gushed Am, and To nodded. “We will have to give names to everything we see here.”
“Yes, your Grace,” he smiled in agreement.
Their tendrils pulled them back into their essences and, as they regained their bearings, were greeted by two beings, much like Am, although the other smaller one seemed similar to To.
“Hello, Nal, hello An” extended Am with a slight bow, still cheerful with his visit into his small rock. “You are here.”
“Yes, we are,” replied Nal, returning his bow. “My apologies for the intrusion of your project inspection.” Yes, Nal looked a lot like Am but their differences could be seen, as in all beings at their stage of growth, by the clarity of their third eye. Nal’s was bigger and had a grayer, more senior and piercing gaze. His tendrils kept his hair parted in a permanent way, while Am always felt it the better part to not display his third eye (because his was a little smaller. Just a bit.).
“Hello, To,” An, the second being said, and bowed slightly to his co-understudy as a friendly gesture. He had bowed much lower to Am when Am acknowledged him, and To knew it was out of deference that An did not feel worthy to utter Am’s name.
“Let us get to the point, now: I heard you injected a speck of singularity in your project,” Nal began, “ I wish to know and understand why you did it.”
To glanced briefly at Am, who ignored him; An caught that quick look and noted it.
“Why do you inquire, dear Nal? I hear your project is proceeding quite well. You have had genesis already, I believe?” Am was not ready to share anything yet.
“Ah, the Revered One has mentioned it.” There was a benevolent smile on his face, and even his third eye showed it. A smugness, actually.
“As he has of mine, obviously,” Am smiled.
The two understudies merely listened and observed the exchange. Notably, Nal and An had had a breakthrough of sorts, much motivation to be jubilant, correct? Yet why, thought To, would they need to ask about the speck…? Hmmmm….
To noticed the tendrils from both beings were extended toward each other and almost touching, almost intertwining, but not really connecting. They were probing each other in an open diplomatic way, but not secretly intrusive.
An’s tendrils were retracted and quite behaving properly, not surprisingly, being an understudy like himself. Protocol dictated that they not participate in the melding of thoughts of two eternal beings. Nor that they should extend tendrils with co-understudies while the elders were in conversation.
But To sensed a lack of affection towards each other, between Nal and An, not like what he observed between Am and An before An was pulled away from his Grace, and he was granted the honor of taking over. Not that he cared, since their project was almost at the opposite end of this vast abyss. There must be something wrong, he thought.
“The speck was an afterthought,” declared Am honestly, “and I placed one in the larger ball of fire, because I felt it prudent to ensure a backstop to address any disturbance in the speck.”
“My pods have developed sentience already,” announced Nal, as if he didn’t hear Am’s declaration.
“What?! That is very good, then!” exclaimed Am, and he made a slight bow, but he felt that familiar clench down there again at this bit of news. “Your project has succeeded. My felicitations. What is the level of their sentience, may I ask?”
“I nudged them into unity and they all act as one now,” Nal replied, still not hearing. “They are not a swarm, but their unified state has made them progress beyond what I expected…”
Am noticed a hesitation. “But…?”
Nal sighed, and his tendrils slightly lost their vigor, exhibiting some sign of surrender. “The pods. They have developed an intelligence. But no souls.”
To glanced at An and caught his look. An avoided his gaze and looked down. Aha, he thought, so he does have a problem.
“The pods are very adept in their replicating the creation process. They design, they plan, they build. They have collegial minds sharing ideas through primitive means. Of course their means are not at the level that we exercise them, but their efforts, while definitely primitive, are indicative of an ability to learn and grow and expand and rely too much on their abilities.”
“What’s the matter with that? You say it as if it’s a bad thing” Am asked.
“Am,” he moved closer to him. “They are growing too fast and seem not to see beyond what they can hold and understand. They are too empirical and…void of spirit. That’s the whole object of our projects, right? To develop pods who can see beyond their mere existence.”
Am frowned. “But from an eschatological perspective, they must realize they have finite lives, do they not? Does this not have any effect on your pods?”
Nal shrugged. “They have discovered the cyclic nature of their existence, but even in that they are too rational in their regard. They care not; they are automatons. Empty, yet unfillable. They live. They multiply. They die. That is that, for them.”
“So why do you come to our humble project? We haven’t even achieved genesis, Nal.”
Nal looked at Am, saying, “To see how your creation is doing, actually. The Revered One has made mention of your use of a latent speck, and that we wish to understand. But I see you have had no genesis yet. Pity.”
“It was not an inspired act, Nal” Am sighed. “I must confess that I merely…” a brief glance at To with a sheepish grin“…improvised.”
“Improvised?! So, you never intended…?” Nal was frowning. His third eye, too.
“Yes.” Am paused, looked at the two understudies, as if to defend himself. “I have noticed that most of the other projects have strictly followed the same procedure. You must be aware, this is my eighth construct. This time, I merely became…creative. Accidentally, at that, too. “
To raised his eyebrows in surprise, and his still-developing third eye blinked once
“We are CREATORS, are we not?” Am continued. “That speck is still just a speck. I harvested a very tiny amount of singularity when I visited the Center of our dimension. It may help in my genesis process, it may not.
“The singularity in the ball of fire, however, is a source and giver of potential genesis, I suspect. Look at the outcome of your project. Your pods have become ONE, even without the use of a singularity, neither speck nor lump. That is the goal, correct? As for my project, I still do not know what will be my outcome, and if my intervention will still be needed.”
“Your Grace,” An finally spoke. “But your speck in the ball of rock is contrary to the singularity in your ball of fire. Will there not be a conflict in the way your genesis will come about?”
“Yes, my dear An, you are correct,” Am answered. “That speck may spell trouble for my pods when they rise up, but do not discount the power of the singularity in the ball of fire. Two singularities cannot co-exist near each other, lest one consumes the other. There is that duality.”
“I do not understand any of this,” To commented. The other three looked at him.
“As do I, To.” Nal sighed. “But then, as Am said, we improvise as the spirit moves. Am,” he addressed his peer, “…promise to share your discoveries with me? Please? If there is any way I can remedy my project, I should so wish to be able to do so. Although my instincts tell me it is too late to remedy my project and provide its needed soul. Empty unusable pods will not benefit our ilk. As we look forward to our own endtimes, we necessarily MUST find suitable vessels that can carry forward the bits of our essence, if we are to be able to sustain our heritage lines.”
“For our heritage lines. Yes, I will, Nal. I will.” Am said in conclusion. To realized the meeting was at an end, and, facing An, gave a sincere bow.
“Farewell, Am, Farewell, To.” The two beings turned and floated off, and vanished at a distance.
To looked at Am when they were finally alone. “Your Grace. That speck may contaminate our pods when they do arise.”
“Let us see, then, To.”
Am turned and went back to the ball of rock which unexpectedly was now glowing, seemingly alive.
“Ahhh, it helps when we are not watching, To. Look! The pods have finally arisen!”
Both of them hovered over the rock and their eyes filled by awe and joy. To’s third eye was fluttering and blinking tears, like a parent over a new-born.
This is getting to be too much, your Grace!” To was scratching his eyebrow in frustration. His tendrils were decidedly agitated as well.
The humans they had created had become a war-like species of animals. From the very start, instead of living in harmony as a unified whole like Nal’s creations, these creatures were destructive, covetous, murderous, lecherous, and insatiable hordes that would engulf whole tribes and assimilate them into their way of life, or kill them all if they refused to adapt.
It had not been apparent at first, and To believed it was a failure for them not to have noticed the blood-thirsty propensities of their pods. They looked so much like such gentle creatures when they were isolated from each other. But when they formed groups, their social interactions metamorphosed.
Even in the nascent stage of their new communities, these pods suddenly showed brutality in their small family units. They were always bickering, there was no inherent desire to communicate, and desires powered their every move, which usually exploded in the form of violence if they could not get what they want. Be it food, sex, shelter. And they multiplied…! The understudy was aghast. Their project had turned into a behavioural sink. At one point, To had deliberately tapped a crack in one of the mountains, causing an avalanche to bury a particularly aggressive tribe about to overrun another tribe. It was an act he thought would strike a fair balance.
But to his horror, the weaker tribe he had spared became emboldened, and became an even fiercer, much ruthless tribe than the one before them! And when To caused a tsunami to drown this tribe after it had established itself as a terror clan, another one found their spirit and took over as the reigning bullies. To was exasperated and wanted to crush all of the tribes altogether before they even turned barbaric. There was no end to the cycle, it seemed.
“Now, now, To, be patient. This IS a work-in-progress, but I suspect An was correct in saying that the speck we injected is influencing the behavior of our humans.” Am was hovering over his planet Earth and his tendrils were reaching down unto the world, feeling the pulse of all the living creatures there.
“They are worse than Nal’s pods, your Grace, because their pods at least know how to cooperate with each other!”
Am looked up at the flustered To, amused, and reassured him, “Nal’s pods have no souls, To. And that is tragic. It would appear ours, although you find it difficult to see, have souls. Come and observe…” Am gestured for him to peer at a particular area. Their gigantic faces looked down upon the earth (although the denizens of the rock could not see them).
“See these groups of people? Although brutal against those not of their tribe, they observe rules among their members. Once accepted, they take care of their own, and they have even acknowledged their mortality by attributing their existence as being brought about by a higher being.
“They sense US, To! This happy thing resulted when you started intervening in their battles. And in acknowledging US, they aspire to be favored and desire their spirits (you see, they sense that there is something inside themselves other than just their bodies!) to be taken by US when their lives end, to live with US in an idyllic kingdom they believe is so much better than the wretched environment they are in now! I’ve spoken to Nal; his pods don’t even consider an afterlife. They are really just automatons. But our creations…? Ahhh, I see potential here,” Am chuckled, very pleased at his observations.
“But the speck? I believe it’s affecting them, your Grace.”
“Oh, I do not dispute that. In fact, I believe that speck is, regretfully, truly a negative force with a life of its own, a devil prowling the surface of the earth, searching for prey. That is another surprising outcome of our experiment. I think the speck in the earth, being a latent force similar to the one in the Sun, has turned somehow into a conjurer of evil, gathering and drawing its energy from the basic drives of these pods. It builds up its energy by inciting the baser drives of these humans, especially when it comes to their needs.
“But in spite of that, I have observed these pitiful creatures searching for a higher being to guide them. Heve you tried listening to their cries? Their lamentations? There are many who are taunted by this evil, afflicted by it, so much so that they want, they seek to be liberated from its presence. This search is a POSITIVE force, but they have been channeling it into so many directions. See how they worship the trees? The mountains? Even the animals they worship, and it doesn’t even have to be large, because what they respect is strength! Anything that is more powerful than they are, that is bigger than they are, they kowtow to and worship. They make that thing their king, their god! A god who can rescue them from their misery and lift them up to a better way of life.
“For example, look how their lives are so dependent on the sun. Do you remember how these humans panicked when we put the moon in-between them?” Am gave out a light laugh, “Those caught in the shadow practically lost their minds! They wanted to slay themselves, throw themselves on their swords and spears rather than be punished by an angry deity. But what did they do as soon as the sun came out again? They bowed lower and prayed even more fervently than before! Such a fruitful prank. They have souls, To, to be sure: souls that seek absolution, souls that yearn for mercy, souls that we can mold. We just have to find out how to channel their drives so they will overcome their damned basic instincts.”
“Negative? Positive? Evil and Good? Your Grace, how does one inculcate such concepts into these creatures?” To was really skeptical of humanity’s malleability.
“To, it’s all aspirational. It’s a given that there is evil and their being physical, being material, makes them easy prey for the negative forces that the evil speck has been harboring. I have noticed that those who persist in their evil, propagate their evil in their tribe. The speck has found form as a spectre in their minds that they have given form to to worship if they are to survive. Such a waste of energy.
“But even in their tribe, there are those who aspire to rise above their own evil, and abandon the evil that their companions commit, in the name of that spectre. So what are we to do? We give them something else to hold on to, to help them rise above their instincts and desires, to control themselves.”
“ ‘Hold on to’?” To was puzzled. “We let their minds form another thing to worship?”
“Yes! A promise!” Am said, eyes beaming.
“A ‘promise’. How can they worship a promise?” To heaved a deep breath, as if preparing for the punch line. “All right, your Grace. What ‘promise’?”
“My dear To, as they are, these humans can be considered failed pods like Nal’s pods. Now ours may be violent pods, but they have souls, something Nal’s pods do NOT have. Why do I say that?
“Because they exhibit PASSION. We need to harness that PASSION for basic violence and greed and all things negative, and divert it. Divert to where, you will ask. We have seen how our humans aspire to be taken up by their powerful gods into the kingdom where they sit in judgement. They want to live with their gods when they die, along with all the other members of their tribe who died before.
“So they believe in the afterlife. That belief we need to capture, and mold, and divert their old PASSION and turn into FAITH that there is indeed a better path they can follow!”
“How does one do that? These creatures are so petty and selfish. They are dominated by the evil of the spectre. How can we expect them to think beyond their own selfish wants and be…selfless?”
“We heighten expectations, To.” He was moving around now, pacing with his robes flowing around, tendrils spasmodic with excitement at the prospect. “And heightening expectations will take time. We give each generation of all these tribes bits and pieces of HINTS of a promise, a promise of something better, something much greater… !”
“I don’t understand…” To bit his lips with the exertion to grasp Am’s declarations.
Am stopped moving and looked at his troubled understudy. “It’s easy, the how. We select specimens from each generation, imbue them with additional gifts or powers not existing in the others and use them as our mouthpiece. We inspire these mouthpieces with the right phraseology to elicit an interest and yearning.”
“ ‘Mouthpiece’ suggests they will speak for us?”
“Yes!” Am was pleased to be able to get his message across. “And no. Preferably these mouthpieces can spout off whatever we spur them on to say, but I would rather they find their own inspiration within themselves so that they can better connect with their people, based on their own shared sufferings and achievements. They will create an awareness that they must follow this way of life, because their god (that’s us) will be sending a gift.”
“Yes! A gift!” Am started pacing again, if you can call his moving around in the black abyss as pacing. “We come to the what. They need a better god to lead them, help them get to the next life, right? So our mouthpieces, we’ll call them prophets, will declare prophecies on the arrival of our ‘gift’.”
“You’re saying we are their god and we are sending them a…gift?”
“To, we created them, did we not? Sure they have their own version of their gods, but we are their de facto AND de jure god, are we not? I hope you are not uncomfortable with this. If they don’t listen, well, we can always wipe out that whole generation with a flood or some other catastrophe (much like what you did with those bully tribes), but we let the survivors carry on with the messages our prophets leave with them. Of course, we select who will survive after the purge, and make sure they are the ones who will carry on the messages of the prophets.”
“My Grace, forgive me.” To stood in front of Am to stop him from pacing. He chose his words carefully. “But what is this ‘gift’ you are talking about?”
Am beamed at him and his third eye was also beaming at him. “It’s really not a ‘what’, To. It’s a ‘who’. And when he arrives, they will sing hymns about him and praise him and listen to his teachings and see him display his powers. He will be miraculous! And all of their spirits, their souls will be saved if they abandon their evil ways and follow him! We will be sending them a King! A KING of kings! THE King. A Son of God. A Superstar!”
To had his arms on his hips, looking sideways thoughtfully, through three half-closed eyes. “A Superstar.”
“Yes! Isn’t that GREAT?”
It was a silent and holy night. All was calm, all was right. The Nativity Scene was just…perfect.
Am and To had their tendrils hovering above this small town, one invisible tendril secretly guiding an augmented star to light up this special tableau with a special glow.
They were watching a small group of people gathered around an animal barn. The cries of a new born babe could be heard resounding in the meadow. Everyone was relishing the sound of its pure and innocent cry.
Their chosen vessel was radiating power and the humans could not help but be drawn to him. He had a glowing aura that only their eternal eyes could see and they could see the rays of his aura reaching out like tendrils and touching the souls of each of those present there, and caressing them all, filling each one with a supernatural form of joy, a spiritual joy they could not as yet understand. It was a new feeling, and they knelt before this babe. Shepherd boys were inspired to sing hymns with angel voices.
Am leaned towards his companion and said, in a whisper, “This is so…significant, To.”
“Yes, your Grace,” To whispered back. “It’s finally done. How could we have known all the trouble we had to deal with just to bring this ‘King’ into our project? These humans can be so creatively destructive and resistant even when they are being saved. I pity all the poor babies they killed.”
“They are hard-headed AND hard-hearted. Nevertheless, I told you, our pods have souls. And I was right. They do have the potential for higher things, you really just have to be extra patient with them…” Am craned his neck to peer into the manger and the infant lying therein. “…and now, given the next phase of our plan, we need to hone our ‘King’ for the role he has to play, say in 20 or 25 years? What do you think, To?”
“I believe we need to be realistic and peg it at 30 years, your Grace. I have not yet set up the teachers in the Himalayas and in the Far East. The main Guru I had developed fell short and has violated his vows of celibacy.”
Am shook his head as a tendril reached up and wiped a tear from his eye. “ Well, basic instincts are indeed difficult to overcome, but I believe his ward is next in line?”
“With a little ‘encouragement’, planted dream-suggestions, and assistance, he will be ready, your Grace,” nodded To.
“Send some angels too, if you can, for effect. Look, look!” exclaimed Am, excitedly. “There’s a new group arriving, those are the seers we dream-suggested the most obvious hints to. And my, they look so wealthy. Our pods have certainly learned how to dress up well.”
“My Grace, how soon do you believe our anointed ‘King’ will be able to extend his influence over the rest of humanity. You know, instill the ‘faith’…?”
“To be honest, To, humankind has proven hard-headed AND hard-hearted. But I said that already, didn’t I? It will take a lot of years before his influence will pervade all of the earth. He will need help to ensure the propagation of his tenets, but I am sure he will attract all the support he needs. His followers will need help as well, until such time.
“We’ll send a different kind of advocate after he has accomplished his mission, share his power with the spirits of his most ardent followers, clarify their minds. But I extrapolate that half of the earth’s population shall be assimilating his beliefs and faith, say in around 2,000 of this planet’s years, give or take a hundred. Unless the spectre gets wily and forms its own religion and concept of heaven and orders genocide of all non-believers…”
“Am!” A familiar voice boomed in the distance.
“AM!” the voice said again, closer now. Am and To turned around and they saw Nal and his understudy An in tow, approaching them.
“Nal, I am glad you chanced by! Come, watch and see how we have steered and equipped our pods so they can level up to a higher state. With this turn of events, we can expect to develop equally-higher quality vessels…!” Am extended an arm to invite his visitor to stay beside him.
“That is all so well and good, Am.” Nal said, nodding, but paused and added gravely. “I have come to bring you some updates about our project.”
“Really? Must be good news as well! I am so happy for both of us Nal, and for you, An.” He smiled benevolently at his former understudy.
Nal paused before saying, “Actually, I regret it’s not so good a development for my project as it is a portent for yours.”
This stopped Am and he looked at him with one eyebrow raised and his third eye, likewise squinting at him suspiciously. “You are being cryptic, Nal. Please, do be direct and tell us.” An also shared a concerned look with To, and ths made him apprehensive.
“Our project… Am, remember our pods have become a unified albeit soulless race, intent on increasing their knowledge and elevating themselves by learning as much as they can about this universe?”
“Yes? That is a good thing, is it not? With self-knowledge, it is possible they may finally discover their souls, correct?” Am said.
Nal stifled a nervous cough. “My dear Am. You are aware that the Revered One has given the edict that all projects should be allowed to take its course, wherever it may take them and none are allowed to interfere.”
Am eyed him. “So…?” He sensed a chastisement coming up.
Nal continued. “You have been interfering with the progression of your project, at every step of the way, but the Revered One has not taken you to task.”
Am thought about that for a moment, then returned to Nal. “And…?”
“Our pods have become colonizers. Systematic invaders, expanding their reach in our end of the universe. They are not content. They are en route to your side of the universe. They have evolved into an insatiable species. They are occupying all planets they come across, stripping them of their resources to further their reach.
“It is taking time for them of course, if it is any comfort” Nal continued, paused, then delivered the final blow: “But we have extrapolated their journey from their current location to your project to be in 2,000 of your planet’s years. Your planet Earth will soon be next, Am.”
Nal swallowed hard, and bowed down his head. “I am truly sorry, Am. There is no stopping their advance.”
Am’s three eyes were staring at him, for what seemed an eternity, as an eternity goes for eternal beings such as themselves.
Then Am slowly turned to a terrified To, who had all three eyes wide open. He breathed in hard, and, said:
“To, we are in deep shit.”