BY SCHISM RENT ASUNDER — snippet 66

 

BY SCHISM RENT ASUNDER – snippet 66:

 

 

.VI.

 

Captain Merlin Athrawes' Quarters,

 

Archbishop's Palace,

 

and Royal Palace,

 

City of Tellesberg,

 

Kingdom of Charis

 

June 12, Year of God 143

 

Tellesberg Enclave

 

Safehold

 

            "To whoever reads this journal, greetings in the name of the true God.

 

            "My name is Jeremiah Knowles, and I am an 'Adam.' I first opened my eyes on Safehold on the morning of Creation, and my mind and my soul were new-made, as clear and clean as the world about me. I looked upon the work of the Archangels and of God, and my heart was filled with joy and reverence.

 

            "Like my fellow Adams and Eves, I met the Archangels. I saw the Blessed Langhorne, and the Holy Bédard. And I knew Shan-wei, the Bright One Who Fell.

 

            "There are many others who have seen the Archangels I have seen, heard and read the Holy Writ I have heard and read. Many of us have lived out even the span of an Adam or an Eve and passed from this world, yet even now, there are hundreds of thousands — possibly millions — of us, still living in this one hundred and forty-third year since the Creation. But of every one of those souls here in Tellesberg, I alone, and my three companions — Evelyn Knowles, my wife, Kayleb Sarmac, Evelyn's brother, and Jennifer Sarmac, Kayleb's wife — have known what none of those others have known.

 

            "We know that the 'Holy Writ' is a lie . . . and that there are no 'Archangels.'"

 

            The being known as Merlin Athrawes sat in the unlit blackness of his quarters in Tellesberg Palace, his eyes closed, looking at the pages stored in his mollycirc brain, and tried to take it all in.

 

            It was hard. Indeed, in many ways it was harder for him to absorb this than it had been for Nimue Alban to learn she'd been dead for over eight centuries. Of all the things he might have discovered, this was the one which would never have occurred to him.

 

            He opened his eyes, using his light-gathering optics to gaze through the daylight-bright darkness and out his sleeping chamber's window at the slumbering city of Tellesberg. There'd been no time for him to read the incredible documentary treasure Maikel Staynair and Zhon Byrkyt had shown him at Saint Zherneau's. But there'd been time for him to examine every page of the manuscript journal, and he was a PICA. He had what truly was a "photographic memory," and he had pored over the stored imagery for over six hours now while all around him the rest of Tellesberg Palace and the capital of the Ahrmahks lay wrapped in the sleep he no longer needed.

 

            "Owl," he said quietly, activating his built-in com.

 

            "Yes, Lieutenant Commander," a silent voice said somewhere deep inside him as Owl, the Ordonez-Westinghouse-Lytton tactical computer in the hidden chamber where Nimue had awakened, replied, bouncing his signal off the carefully stealthed SNARC high above the body of water known as The Cauldron.

 

            "Have you completed that data search?"

 

            "Yes, Lieutenant Commander."

 

            "Did you find the specified names?"

 

            "I did, Lieutenant Commander. There are, however, data anomalies."

 

            "Data anomalies?" Merlin sat straighter, eyes narrowing. "Specify data anomalies."

 

            "Yes, Lieutenant Commander. The names you directed me to search for appear in both the Colony Administration's official roster of colonists, a copy of which was filed in my memory by Commodore Pei, and in the roster of colonists filed in my memory by Dr. Pei Shan-wei. They are not, however, assigned to the same population enclaves in both rosters."

 

            "They aren't?" Merlin frowned.

 

            "That is correct, Lieutenant Commander," Owl replied. A more capable AI would have explained the "data anomalies" in greater detail. Owl, on the other hand, clearly felt no need to do so.

 

            "Where were they assigned?" Merlin asked, reminding himself rather firmly — again — that Owl's version of self-awareness was still . . . limited. The manual promised him that eventually the AI's heuristic programming would bring Owl to a fuller state of awareness. That he would began recognizing rhetorical questions, responding without being specifically cued, and even start providing necessary explanations or potentially significant unexpected correlations of data search results without being specifically instructed to do so.

 

            In Merlin's considered opinion, "eventually" couldn't possibly come too soon.

 

            "According to Administrator Langhorne's official roster, Jeremiah Knowles, known as 'Jere Knowles,' his wife, his brother-in-law, and his sister-in-law were assigned to the Tellesberg enclave. According to Dr. Pei's roster, all four of them were assigned to the Alexandria enclave."

 

            Merlin blinked. He'd never thought to check Shan-wei's notes on the original placement of colonists against the official record, never suspected there might be discrepancies between them. Now, however, he wondered why the possibility hadn't occurred to him.

 

            Because the Commodore didn't say anything about it to you in his downloads, that's why, he thought.

 

            "Are there additional 'data anomalies' between the two rosters?" he asked Owl. "Additional cases in which colonists appear assigned to more than one enclave?"

 

            "Unknown, Lieutenant Commander," Owl said calmly, with the total lack of curiosity Merlin found maddening.

 

            "Well," he said with what a human being would have recognized as dangerous patience, "find out if any such additional anomalies exist. Now, Owl."

 

            "Yes, Lieutenant Commander."

 

            The AI's tone was completely devoid of any suggestion that it had recognized Merlin's impatience. Which, of course, only made it even more maddening, Merlin reflected.

 

            But whatever his shortcomings in terms of personality might be, Owl was a very fast worker. His analysis of the two rosters took less than two minutes, despite the millions of names in each of them.

 

            "There are additional anomalies, Lieutenant Commander," he informed Merlin.

 

            "Well," Merlin said twenty seconds later, "what sort of additional anomalies did you discover? And how many of them are there?"

 

            "All of the anomalies discovered fall into the same category as those already known, Lieutenant Commander. They consist of colonists who appear to have been assigned to multiple enclaves. In all cases, the enclave listed in Dr. Pei's roster is Alexandria. In Administrator Langhorne's roster, they are assigned to several different enclaves. I have detected a total of two hundred and twelve such anomalies."

 

            "I see," Merlin said slowly, his frustration with the AI's lack of spontaneity and initiative fading as he contemplated the numbers.

 

            I know what she was up to, he thought, and his mental tone was almost awed. My God, she was creating a second string for her bow, and she didn't even tell the Commodore. That's the only possible reason he wouldn't have told me about it in his message. He frowned. Was this something she'd intended to do all along, or did it only occurr to her after they'd officially separated because of their supposed disagreement? And how did she manage to doctor the records without Langhorne and Bédard realizing what she'd done?

 

            There was no way for anyone to know the answers to any of those questions at this distant remove. But if Merlin didn't know how Pei Shan-wei had done it, he did know what she'd attempted.

 

            He flipped ahead through the recorded pages of Jeremiah Knowles' journal to the passage he wanted.

 

            " . . . no more idea of the truth, then, than any of our fellow Adam and Eves. None of us were aware of the mental programming Bédard had carried out at Langhorne's orders. But when Dr. Pei realized what Langhorne had done, she took measures of her own. There was no way for her or any member of her staff in the Alexandria enclave to restore the memories of our past lives which had been taken from us. But, unknown to Langhorne and Bédard, she had secretly retained three NEATs. With them, she was able to reeducate a handful of the original colonists. We were among them."

 

            Merlin nodded to himself. Of course that was what she'd done. It had been risky just to retain the Neural Education and Training machines, no doubt, given Langhorne's plans and willingness to crush any opposition, and actually using them on the colonists would have been even more dangerous. But it couldn't have been any riskier than her open refusal to destroy the records of the truth stored in Alexandria. Unfortunately, neither had been enough.

 

            I can't believe this has all been just sitting here for over seven hundred local years, he thought. I wonder if any of her other "sleepers" survived Alexandria's destruction? And if they did, did they leave a record like 'Saint Zherneau's,' or did they simply dive as deep into their cover identities as they could? And how in hell did this journal of his manage to survive when the Brethren finally found it?

 

            He had no idea how to answer any of those questions, either . . . but he rather suspected that he knew someone who did.

 

About Eric Flint

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Comments

7 Responses to BY SCHISM RENT ASUNDER — snippet 66

  1. Kar says:

    Hmmm.. NEETS… useful little gadgets…. I wonder who’s going to be taught?

  2. John says:

    But are they still around, or did the conflict among the “archangels” destroy them?

    Secondly, would merlin/nimue consider it ethical to use them?

  3. MarkR says:

    He/she would consider it ethical to use them on volunteers. Do you want to take the red pill or the blue pill? Hopefully, Merlin would tell them more about what they were getting themselves into beforehand than Morpheus.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but what Shan-wei appears to have done is reeducate 212 colonists, smuggled them out of Alexandria to other enclaves, then somehow managed to change the Colony Administration’s official roster to make it appear those colonists had always been assigned to the enclave they’d been smuggled to. I don’t have any idea who he thinks will know more other than the two men he just learned all this from.

    On another note, if I had any hope that Weber would cover non-military tech in more than a superficial manner, I’d hope he would be having them use hydraulic rams.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_ram

    I had an argument with Stirling about how the Emberverse people should have revived this technology since hydraulics were completely unaffected by his Change. Weber likewise should be using this since this is a direct use of water power to send water elsewhere under pressure where it can be put to direct use to power machinery, thus staying within the Proscriptions, while avoiding all sorts of frictional losses you get with more primitive uses of water power. The more primitive versions have problems in areas where it gets cold enough to freeze the water, but that doesn’t apply to Charis itself, except maybe in the far south.

  4. Tim says:

    You have to wonder if the journals mention Merlin, not by name but by reference… like the 2nd coming

  5. Aaron Van Dessel says:

    I doubt it. Remember, this plan was supposed to be the back-up to the back-up. Or rather, make it easier for the back up to work. If Merlin had malfunctioned in the cave, then this plan would have done what Merlin forsaw in the 1st book. It would have been the way for some people to know that no archangel will come to help in this battle.

    I’m more curious about where each one of them went. Some in Tellesberg. Emerald? Harchong? Zion (doubt it but…)?

  6. E says:

    I doubt Merlin is mentioned at all because if Zion got their hands on such information even after the genocide of Alexandria there would be countermeasures taken (there might well be some in Zion at any rate; my bet for the unexplained energy sources is a combination of 1: The Temple’s Air Conditioning 2: Stasis pods 3:Control center for the KB satellites. I foresee a battle into the very heart of the temple where Merlin can order the satellites to self destruct.) I don’t think Merlin will find any NEATs that function after almost a millennium without maintenance, but who knows, it’s the future and there are bound to be many caves in every planet with a solid surface. I think that Merlin is the kind of guy who would side against modifying who a person is by changing their memories. Still though, he has gained an unexpected source of allies and potentially a way to put a dent in the 250 assault rifles and millions of rounds of ammunition he has lying around his cave like so many paperweights. Heck, with the medical lab in his cave he could give antigerone treatments to his most trusted agents if it gets to actual Master Tranyr status across all of Safehold instead of the Charis-Emerald-Chisholm region.

    I’d like to say that Charis needs the population to defeat the church lands, and ironically enough the Archangels already plowed out an entire continent that is ripe for farming. If WWII has taught humanity one thing, it’s that nothing says “Let’s make a baby” like slaughtering fanatics for a few years…

    PS: Isn’t it an odd coincidence… evil masterminds named Clyntahn. Makes you wonder who Weber would vote for.

    PSS: If you enjoy video games then check out http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/editorials/zeropunctuation

    E

  7. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on msnbc. Regards

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