Faith left her former apartment in a mad rage. Abe was not going for her idea. He had some moral sense of right and wrong that the whole thing was a service to humanity rather than a fig ripe for plucking. She did know one thing he did not, the location of a third Adonai. Little did she know that not only did Abe know of a third, he knew of her hidden Adonai, and more still. She had packed and left headed for Daneri’s Adonai to transport her to the new location. She would use her hidden spot and still enact her master plan. She just needed a partner. This time she knew whom to use.
Richard Wagstaff Clark, IV was one of the most trusted names in all of the news media. For many reasons, the first of which was his longevity. Just like the great-grandfather he was named for, Dick had the youthful looks of someone half his age. The explosion of news channels, websites and other forms of getting information to the masses in the early twenty-first century had succumbed to the same conglomeration syndicate that utilities and fast food had. Now it was taken for granted that information was delivered by a few well-known faces that all worked for the same faceless multinational conglomerate, and Dick was the most well known of them all. He had been showered with so many awards over the course of his career that he built a wing onto his house to hold them all. Instead of awards, he got his feeling of self worth from the accomplishments of what he and his family had been able to reveal to the general public. His grandfather had covered the Allman Initiative from start to finish. His father had announced almost play by play the creation of the MTS including the final mission of Neil E. Mann while bravely searching the last branch of the system. He had handed his son the fateful report that revealed that in fact the MTS did eliminate the trouble with travel and Dick’s first report told the world of the side effect of immortality.
Dick’s whole life, and especially his whole career, was built upon the secret history of the greatest institutions man had ever worshipped. He was devastated the day it was announced that the MTS had stability issues and people were disappearing left and right. Those reports died out, but he suspected it was more from not being reported rather than being fixed. Despite all that, he was unprepared for the bombshell he had just been given. She sat across from him, cradling a Kewan and a strange book with an ever so pleasing smile on her face. It was impossible to not like her, and it was impossible to not trust her.
She pulled a second crystal ball-like object from her bag. “Kewans, they hold the key to the future of man, and the elimination of all that’s wrong in the world.” Faith set them down atop his desk and reached back into the bag.
As he examined them, she set a book on his desk and smiled. Surely, he would see the potential. Dick was a man of the world that could be trusted, that had vision. For his part, Dick just hoped what she said was right, that these little balls could deliver the salvation from the way of the world.[ Me , 5/13/17, 10:38
Not sure where I was going with this Dick Clark reference]
The men had moved into a bigger room once Kagami arrived. It was a collection of some of the most brilliant minds of the last few centuries starting with Rotcod, extending through Kagami and on to Speil. And there was Mann. N. E. Mann, the smallest IQ, smallest intellect, fewest degrees, and yet he was about to school them all.
“It extended my life, yes,” Rotcod was saying, “But at what cost. I didn’t like it one bit at all, so I only came back once every forty years. And it’s time again, only this time I’m ready for it to take me.”
Kagami eyed his old mentor. He was much more advanced in years and had a body to show it. When it had been Kagami’s time to slip into obscurity, he had lost touch with his mentor. As a result, it surprised him to learn that they had carried on in similar fashion. Both men became hermits living quiet lives and pumping out books and inventions under pseudonyms to supplement their investments. The impersonality of electronic banking had eliminated the tricky questions a more personal world would have asked. No one realized the two of them were still alive. Their pseudonyms came across as recluses who just did not want to be known to the public. Moving from location to location broke up the monotony of life in one place as well as not having too many reclusive authors and inventors from the same location.
Kagami rejuvenated by travel in the newer Sinduraj because it was his baby. He used the terrestrial system to get to the hub in New Ixeveh and then spent weeks exploring the vast reaches of space that were as convenient as the corner grocery thanks to the MTS. Occasionally he would arrange to meet with Senator Lear, long since retired from the Senate and living her own life of obscurity. Together with Speil the three kept the cloak in place that allowed them and Rotcod to continue their renewal trips alive.
Rotcod traveled through more conventional methods until he returned to New Ixeveh for the short jaunt to Jupiter and back. In addition to being the first to eliminate the trouble with travel through the Palishakyas Program, even before Allman, he was also the first to realize that it may not be the complete answer to achieving eternal life. Unbeknownst to the rest, he had been doing extensive research into it for nearly two centuries. Open on the table in front of him were two cases full of abstracts detailing the news articles, research, and findings from not only him, but also Kagami, Speil and others that had touched briefly on the matter. None had been able to clearly see the connections as the father of holistic engineering had. Until now.
Mann for his part sat quietly by watching the intellectuals discuss what he had a clear, concise answer for. The trick for him would be to reveal it in a way that would be non-condescending to the men of superior reasoning that had accomplished so much. But Mann’s insight did not come from studying the ways of humanity, or the laws of science. In his time with Scarlett Grace Mann had learned the true path. Even beyond where Abe Hannah currently was. He would be there soon enough, but for now, Mann was here to guide the way for the men who thought they lead the way for all mankind.
While the men talked, Mann would occasionally see a file that stood out to him and would slide it to the side. As the fourth such file came along, he smiled and began to lay out the tetragrammoton of files. They belonged to people who like Rotcod had seen the dangers before they struck. In their searches, they too had come across Scarlett Grace. Through no amount of work or actions they had been graced with the ability to see that their faith in something more would be their salvation. Mann smiled as he prepared to rock the world of the men in the room with him.
“You need a partner? Someone to help you find the rest of them?” Floating in the hold of the Danegeld Allman eyed Abe. “What made you come searching for me?”
Zero gravity was not Abe’s friend. He felt constantly queasy and on the verge of regurgitating. Or was it because of what he was trying to accomplish. “I have been a fan of yours for most of my life. I searched for information on you, the Danegeld, the Palishakyas Program, did you know we re-named it?” Allman shook his head so Abe continued, “The Allman Initiative. It was all the rage, everyone followed it for years, decades even. Then interest began to fade. You weren’t getting to your destination fast enough. The President shut down the program slowly. Fewer people cared, so more of the program was mothballed. Finally it was shut off completely. Then came the next big thing. The Sinduraj Program was the Allman Initiative on steroids. Travel paths were opened up all over the country, the world, and then the galaxy. It was all the rage until people realized that the risks of using it could outweigh the benefits. Just as the disappearances became weekly events, my former partner unveiled her system.
“The Kewans are similar to the Adonai, except that they require a physical object, the Kewan, to operate. Well, that and the Zahir, but it takes the Zahir for them to transport, as does the Adonai. But with that, you can go anywhere. It is inconvenient because you can only go from Kewan to Kewan, yet convenient because you can move the Kewans to wherever you want. That’s what she and her partner have done. Set up Kewan kiosks everywhere.”
Allman’s head was swimming. First another guest, then a rapid-fire history lesson that had been left out of his database, he knew he had been leading a sequestered life but he had at least thought he was given up to date information in his updates. What else had been hidden from him? “Why me? You live in a world full of people; there are others that subscribe to your ways, right? What made you try to recruit me?”
Fighting another wave of nausea Abe took a deep breath. “Like you, I was alone, by choice, not wanting anyone or anything to get close to me. I had my study of your program. I went in depth studying everything I could get my hands on, up to and including dissecting the schematics and blueprints for the Danegeld. Like everyone else I was convinced that I was set apart and different from everyone else, seeking the ultimate goal, the end of it all, the reason for living and the way to keep doing it. I was as set in the ways of the laws of the world and nature as anyone could get. Then I realized that the promise of a better life wouldn’t come from legalism. Faith found me, and then I found faith. Then by faith I found Grace, only the thing is, she knew me before I knew I was looking for her. Grace is all there is. Grace alone, through faith alone. It takes nothing to get, nothing to keep, yet it drives me to do better. It drives me to share that grace.
“Grace is a gift that overflows. Just like you can’t earn grace, you can’t keep it bottled up either. You can’t keep grace to yourself. Telling the world about it is easy, you were the one person left that wouldn’t ever hear it. I didn’t pick you, I had to find you. You are the one lost sheep, the 99 were fine, I had to find the lost one. Together we can go back and take care of the rest.”
Allman’s head was still spinning, his heartbeat picked up, racing even. In the next room lights flashed and a quiet alarm began to go off. A toothbrush waved up and down on the dashboard, secured by Velcro, yet taunting him all the same. It was time for Allman to go home.
Neil Mann continued smiling listening to the three well respected men of science arguing back and forth throwing out hypotheses and dashing the hopes of each other by logic and knowledge to demonstrate how the hypotheses all had holes the size of apartment buildings. Two of them would discuss loudly while the third examined files and dreamt up another idea. When they would throw out the new idea they became one of the animated ones until slowly one of them would become contemplative and start scouring the files again.
As yet another file came by Mann, he calmly reached out and took it sliding it to the small stack in front of him. “Gentlemen, I have a point for you to ponder.”
Kagami and Speil stopped arguing and looked at the end of the table where Neil was. Their arms were still in the air, no longer waving but prepared to begin again if need be. Rotcod was the contemplative one at the moment, but he patiently marked where he was in the file he had open with his finger and closed the folder as he stared at Neil.
Neil tossed a folder at Speil, “Tell me about her.”
Speil reached for the folder and glanced at the name, he knew her without opening it. “She was our old administrative assistant.” He nodded at Kagami, “You hired her, Thirty years she was our secretary, she helped us move when we split the facility into three parts, she was there through the worst of times.
“The afternoon she died was after we had gotten into an argument. It was about the morals of our traveling. More accurately, it was about extending our lives, and that it was wrong.”
A brief silence enveloped the room before Mann added, “That was the sterile version of it. Now how about the sordid details?”
Speil sat down. “No, that wasn’t all. For quite some time we had been getting closer and closer. It started with playful bantering, then harmless flirting. I didn’t mean to escalate it, but she drew it from me. After she died, I found out the things she told me that led me to believe we had a shot at dating were lies. She drew it out of me. It was almost like an affair with her was chasing the two of us, sometimes closer, other times not, but always hanging in the air. It was the elephant in the room with us. A few days before she died we had a long talk about the travels.
“She told me that she had been thinking, reading, and studying what we were doing on a philosophical level and was near an answer. She could tell it was the truth because the hair on the back of her neck stood up, and it only did that when it was absolute truth. The answer was within her grasp, but instead of enveloping her, she lost it all. That was the day we started having an affair.
“The afternoon she died she was on her way to one of the outer planets as a plausible excuse as to why we hadn’t been together that day, just in case anyone, like her husband, should ask.” He took a deep breath as tears welled up in his eyes, “Our argument was left with her saying it just wasn’t right. I won, but only because I was the last man standing.” He dried his eyes as he finished.
Mann tossed another file at Speil, “She wasn’t a faceless person from the masses that travel on the system. She was one of you, the educated and illuminated, vaunted few. You don’t yet know what she knew. And this one?” He nodded at the file.
Slowly picking it up Speil read the name, “Justin was a junior engineer. Still wet behind the ears, but great at seeing the other side of the argument. He was our devil’s advocate for just about everything. He’d take issue with his favorite drink if you needed him to. He could call evil good and good evil, he could change darkness for light, light for darkness, bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. He left one afternoon without so much as a warning or a word. It was six weeks before we found out he had attempted to follow your last path.
“Hummph,” Speil interrupted himself, “The path the other you took, when you disappeared. We had simply closed off that avenue, not letting anyone or anything go down that path. We assumed it was something bad. When Justin disappeared, we knew it had to be.
“So what’s your point? Did you know these people? What makes them special?”
“The last two are a jury tamper-er and walking proof that Darwin was right about the selection process. Did I know them? I met them each, all four individually. I showed them enough that they didn’t want to see more. They had become callous and given up to sensuality, greed and other practices of impurity. I showed them that they were darkened in their understanding, alienated from life because of ignorance due to the hardness of their hearts. I testified to them that they must no longer walk in the futility of their minds. But they did not heed the warnings.[don’t know who I wanted to be saying this one. Really need a said line here][ Me , 5/13/17, 10:39
Better figure this one out, too]
“That is why I have come here today to see the three of you. To show you the error of your ways, of all your ways. You are some of the brightest men in the universe, yet you cannot see or concede that your way is not the perfect way. The way of man is not the best way to accomplish the goal you have. All your methods are centered on Man and what Man can do. It isn’t about Man, it isn’t about Works, it’s about Faith.”
Rotcod and Kagami were lost. Mann could clearly see that. They resumed review of the files with methodical efficiency and ignoring Mann. The two of them had devoted their lives to the systems they had built and despite their ability to see outside the confines of the limits of their perception this concept remained beyond their reach. Speil glanced at Mann, then the two of them, and spun around in his chair to review what was written on the wallboards behind him. Their scribbled notes and lines of connection were a confusing array of garbage yet only Mann could see that. He stood and walked to the door. Mann had taken his shot, it was over. From where he stood it was a complete waste, no one got his message.
It had been that way when Mann was first approached as well. Scarlett Grace had not given her name that day just outside the ice cream shop, but she did tell him she had visited each of them, Rotcod, Kagami, and Mann. None of them had listened to her, but she planted a seed in Mann’s mind. A fast germinating seed. For the rest of the day, he remembered, he thought, and he meditated. As he wandered around the old town of New Ixeveh he contemplated what Scarlett Grace had shown him. By the end of the day he knew that he could not go on with the work. It took many more visits over the next few decades before he had learned enough to find the Adonai and Zahir and use them, but once the truth had dazzled it was not forgotten.
Speil turned his head slightly as Mann walked out the door, as it clicked shut he lowered his eyebrows clearly deep in thought. As the sound waves dissipated he again turned and faced the stack of files in the middle of the table. Rotcod and Kagami did not even realize Mann had left. To them Mann had had no point, no truth, and no amount of validity. Mann simply had to be wrong, man could fix the problem. He pulled a file from the pile and opened it.