Sunday, August 24, 2014

Aside on Hot Death Chick

Long day, long life. Let's tell a story instead.

This one once worked on a planet where they had the coolest, well, take on Death. It was an artificial planet built by a 5C people, but what made it interesting was the female Death they had. Some groundwork, first: it wasn't artificial in the structural sense, so no metal frameworks or any of that; it was actually made out of soil taken from various other places in their solar system, pounded together so it looked real, but they didn't understand that it wasn't alive, so they missed out on a lot of research by constantly assuming that their readings were from a "real" planet.

Anyway, they were out floating on this thing, and the bastards who controlled it had achieved this sort of limited immortality, but a really reliable one. Almost the whole place was urbanized, oceans in sacs in the upper atmosphere above the poles, and they'd thrown together this impressive array of eltarin webbing all around it, extending a few miles above the surface all around (pinioned on actual steel and aluminum poles that they'd built hundreds of, if you can believe that). So, whenever someone died, the network would catch the energy, it would funnel into a factory, and they'd kick out a new body, youth-duplicate, within a few hours.

And of course it was hell. Everyone wanted out, but they couldn't get out, because death added to your debt. The whole idea there for the elites was that, when you were born, you took on a certain quantity of debt (which they had the gall to call "planetary responsibility gift" for a period of over a hundred years), and it was added to incrementally every day. By the time someone hit adulthood (26) and was allowed to begin paying it back (they wouldn't even let parents do it ahead of time, and children couldn't hold property), it was pretty much insurmountable, and of course wages and such were all arranged so that no one except a few people ever got ahead of it.

Now, because of that mini eltarin field around the place, you couldn't escape your debt, and suicide only added to it, because you had to pay for the body. Near the beginning, some people would try to kill themselves a hundred times in a row, but each time, they were caught, reimplanted, and kicked out of some factory anew, numbers higher. Life was just work, work, work. Think factory-farmed chickens. Despite the size of the place, there were about 70 billion people at any given time, shunted into this pretty transparent caste system of workers and managers. Being a field technician was the highest honor, though all the real field technicians were stuffed into working pods half of each day; they called "field technician" anyone who oversaw a large enough portion of the network, i.e., by sitting in a pleasure pod doing nothing.

So in all other respects, this wasn't a 5C out of the ordinary, but the cool thing was, once every year (based on the source planet, and about 8 months), Death would appear. No, not joking--this actual Death-creature, very close to Earth imagery. Human skeleton, black robes with hood, and this thing that looked like a lacrosse stick (cultural associations equivalent to Earth-scythe). And you knew she was a girl because she had a nice figure under the robes. Very cool.

Anyway, once a year, she'd appear at a random location around the place, and go walking around. She was over a hundred feet tall, half transparent to look at, could walk through buildings, and was unaffected by weapons. Near the end of the sixth or seventh appearance, they blew up half a continent to get her, but she just walked out of the wreck and kept on. She'd walk around for about a day, and at the end of the day, she'd find one person and kill them with a swing of her lacrosse-stick-thing.

And like that, that one person would go off the radar. No energy entrapment, no factory rebirth, no debt. They didn't have the equipment to sense whether or not the person had returned to the greater field (because, like this one said, they still thought of their built-"planet" as natural, so they were cut off), but they did scour every inch of the place for signs of where the person had gone, and they never found anyone. And right after killing whoever it was, the "Death" vanishes, and is gone for another year, and the elites do everything they can to prepare to trap her the next time, but it never works. A hundred times in a row, at least. She walks right through everything, one person a year.

Naturally, she's a hero. There comes a religion, a rebellion (both very, very short-lived and almost comically tragic from this perspective), and eventually, just quiet acceptance. This is 5C, so they could tell that everyone wanted the hell out (even quite a few of the elites, though it took some scandals and hacking to get that info revealed). In the end, they decided to claim credit for her--her appearance became a holiday which they could never quite predict, and they would always act, after the fact, like they had summoned her to give relief to someone who'd worked particularly hard. This one never knew anyone who got out that way, but from reading around, it was pretty obvious that she chose on her own, and that she wasn't carrying out their will by rescuing someone who'd been secretly saving and paid themselves off.

Oh, forgot to mention--this happened with aging, too, so there was literally no death without Death. Work to the grave, appear young, do it over again. There was a time when someone figured out how, if you lived in certain places, worked in certain ways, and got lucky, you could avoid an exhaustion-death, and have everything paid off by age 104. Of course, once more than a few people did it, they adjusted the numbers a little bit, and a few people had to lose physical memory connections.

Anyway, just a story for travelers. The foreboding aspects aren't particularly new, but if you're out working and see something like that, here's a jump to your answer. (Firstly, this was not a Jenome infected planet. No prior "miracles," no localized isolation, and 100% of elitism was self-generated. So you won't necessarily find any of Them, and if you do, it won't necessarily answer any questions.) What happens is, with any of these wanderers, you'll probably find insubstantial yearnings in the building materials--if you don't, that's your answer. Anything notable means, as in the case of that shitty cobbled place, that the original source is trying to reconstitute itself, which is how this one later met "Death." She was getting the original souls back to the field, and the way the last survivors figured it out was by going into the old logs and determining that the thing had been built using 30% soil from their homeworld, which had been barely able to generate the "Death" at such a slow pace to break past the artificial field. If the elites there hadn't blown up half the place in this insane attempt, decades in, to "finally stop her," it could've taken millions of years to get the numbers of people there reduced to such a point as to solve the problem.

You'd all figure it out eventually, anyway; the important thing to remember here, this one thinks, is that, if you're ever influential somewhere during a transitory stage where they're thinking of building one of those artificial things, trick them into including a lot of native soil. If you at all can, don't let them make a 100% foreign vessel, or the people on it could get stuck in un-cycling until direct intervention. There are a lot of good arguments that should work on the worst of whatever elites you have: it's cheaper than externally mined building materials (big winner); it could have a "pacifying" effect on people who don't want to leave, because then they could feel like they were bringing along some of home; it further weakens the planet against regrowth (another one the sickos will love, and it'll hurt to make it, but this one's Death story shows that it'll actually help regrowth in the long run). And if it's Jenome-infected, all the easier to get elites to bring some dirt along if they were working with Them, although this one doesn't know what additional problems They might cause on artificials.


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