The galaxy we call home is a very large and old place. Within its vast expanse and during its time of existence great and wonderful things have happened, and then happen again. Life has arisen, developed to marvelous intelligence, and then faded away. The very stars are born in turmoil to live raging lives of unimaginable nuclear violence and then finally too they die. When galaxies collide only rarely do actual celestial bodies touch and yet entire solar systems are rent apart and life is extinguished upon a grand scale. Every single thing that might be said about our galaxy, about any galaxy is writ large.
Once a fine race of intelligent beings arose in a small pocket of the galaxy that may as not remain unnamed. Life on their planet had, like most life in most places, developed from local chemistry and solar energy fairly soon after the bombardment that had made the planet subsided. Life on that planet took several different paths, and could generally be considered divided into vegetative, and animal, with a few forms apparently not quite having made up their minds somewhere in between. Life developed on the surface and in the water below the surface.
Life will develop. It simply is too probable not to. Life is never static. Life includes death, so far as anyone knows always. Individuals die, species die whether by evolving into something else or by going extinct. Life moves ever onward as if toward a noble goal. At some point life may develop intelligence.
Oh and there are so many types of intelligence. It is supposed that any life includes some intelligence as life does always face its local environment and in some way exploit that environment to continue itself. Any mobile form of life certainly has some intelligence that acts in response to its environment by moving either toward or away from some part of it. As life adapts its intelligence is increased. At some point life becomes, in some cases, aware not only of its surroundings but also of itself. Some life learns how to do some degree of self programming. Life that self programs and is self aware we usually consider truly intelligent.
Life stumbles ever forward. Chemical evolution becomes biological evolution which becomes social evolution and then technological evolution. It isn't as though all life follows the entire path. No, the path toward civilization and beyond that to the stars is a road with many off ramps. At so many specific points of divergence the chemicals or cells or organisms may advance or they may run a dead end course. They may thrive and pass on characteristics or they may lose the bet placed by adaptation. Luck plays such a large role here. A form of life wonderfully adapted to its environment might disappear with a single celestial impact.
But whereas the chances dictate that the largest number of all the promising pre life chemicals that begin to organize with the light and tides kind effects will at some point fail to climb, will fail to lead to that pinnacle of achievement; some will continue to improve and better themselves and eventually become space faring. Very few, as a matter of statistical probability, make it this far. However, due to the immensity of the galaxy's scale in space and time, some species do hurl themselves into the big unknown and against the void itself.
One such species, a species that became a race was the Vrill. This is their story. At some point the Vrill became sufficiently adept at adapting to their environment that they learned to adapt their environment to themselves and to their needs. There is a sequence to this. Just as there is a sequence to the development of any individual of any species: a time to grow and a time to learn and a time to use what has been learned; there is also a sequence to the development to space faring from humble beginnings. The Vrill followed this path as they found that living in caves is to be preferred to life in the open. They banged rocks together and found that the results made tools. They noticed and then learned to tame fire. They developed a language. They came to understand mathematics and graphical representation. They developed philosophies. Little by little the Vrill attained culture.
This path is fraught with dangers and to many of these the Vrill fell victim. As the things which a culture may possess increase in value and number so do the items available to an individual. Some individuals find it easier and more desirable to take from others than to earn or make their own. Envy and violence happen, envy and violence happened within the cultures of the Vrill. As social organization becomes ever more complex and of a larger scale matters once small become large. Personal violence becomes organized and warfare is born unto a race.
Most species that would be considered races employ warfare at some time or another. It is a development as natural as the discovery of fire or the invention of the wheel. Cultures grow along lines of hierarchy of some form or another. Sooner or later some head man - or head being - determines that organized theft and hatred might be the way yo more of everything. Some culture invents war, another culture ceases to exist. Some other culture yet hears of this and invents their own version of organized violence. For some span of time only the successful warriors survive long enough to pass their cultural standards and wisdom onward through time. For some span of time the docile ones fall to the knives of the warring nations.
And all of this occurred upon the home world of the Vrill, there were battles and skirmishes and out and out wars and atrocities and massacres. For a time which was far too long the beings of the Vrill world: each member of each culture a Vrill himself, battled on. Just as is all too common in the galaxy, the Vrill seemed to be eager to paint their entire world in the blood of their own. And just as is all too common, they were very successful in this endeavour. As if life is not difficult enough, the Vrill - hardly alone in this terrible quest - went to great lengths to make it even worse. They tried to make it nearly impossible. They tried to make it nearly unbearable. They were about as good at these perverse accomplishments as so many other races of what we call intelligence.
Sometimes a miracle happens. Sometimes someone will perceive the horrors of war and the uselessness of it. Sometimes that someone will be able to take those perceptions and reflect intellectually upon them. All too rarely that someone may be able to communicate in a way powerful to his fellows all that he has thought, all that he has thought about life and worries and hatred. Just as in the evolution from hydrogen to culture, there are so many opportunities for failure here. That last step is so rarely achieved. The one who can think is so often not the one who can speak. Sometimes even with the cries from the wilderness at full pitch the masses simply will not listen. They can be so busy preparing for the next conflict that they have not the time nor ability to consider the things said by the wise.
Just as a great calamity probably requires not one, but many causes all acting as a great concert; so too does any great advance. That which is seem must be seen by just the right individual. What is said must be said just right to reach the masses. The time must be right. The methods must be subtle. So many specific things must be exactly correct.
On the home world of the Vrill this miracle occurred. There had been several wise ones who told of better ways of life. These wise ones had been variously listened to or hunted down for centuries. Some of their words had become venerated which is to say that these words were worshiped without being placed into practice. But all the pieces were there, just waiting to be put to use. The issue so often is how to put great ideas to work in reality.
Then arose among the Vrill a different kind of wise one. This wise one had no specific philosophy to offer. He thought that in all probability all the great thoughts had already been thought. He noticed that so many wise ones across so much time and from so many Vrill societies had said about the same sort of things. He noticed that no one actually seemed to disagree with these thoughts. He also noticed that no one actually lived in accord with these thoughts no matter how loudly proclaimed. And he pondered as to the whys and wherefores of this curious juxtaposition of wonderful thought and woeful action.
And as he considered the matters before him he realized that realization was the key. This wise one known as "GeHozhn Krreendah" (Meaning: Goat Dealer / Defiler of Farm Animals: actually a fairly popular name at the time, although reserved for saints later on.) thought that the real problem was not with a lack of wonderful thoughts, nor with the apparent surplus of them. He determined that the problem lay in the minds of the Vrill and how they could apparently go blithely through life professing to believe one thing whilst doing more or less exactly the opposite. He thought that it was this disconnect that demanded attention. He took as an assumption that if beliefs could be causally linked to actions, then all other matters would resolve themselves. After all, everyone already knows how to live. They just don't do it.
GeHozhn Krreendah thought for a very long time. Then ideas began to literally pop into his mind. And he knew that whereas it would be easy to make a set of pronouncements at that point that more was required. He needed to experiment. Would his ideas work in the real world and with real Vrill? So he set up a business dedicated to assisting Vrill individuals with problems. He offered a deal to accept payment only after that individual had found the processes workable and had noticed real and good effect in his life. As GeHozhn Krreendah worked with his charges he simultaneously aided Vrill to find better lives and learned to perfect his methods. After a long time indeed he had a workable method. And that would not be nearly enough.
A great Vrill warrior ViStanCoorill had fairly conquered all other Vrill cultures on the planet. He had done this by means of the old fashioned ways of ruthlesness and unrestrained violence toward others. Then he died, suddenly, leaving the new empire to his son who was called Kahnndhi. Kahnndhi would prove to be the great link in a series of causes that would lead all the Vrill to true greatness. For he cared, and he saw, and he too was troubled by the violence and the uselessness of life and the pain. Above all he detested pain. He wondered why the Vrill could be so eloquent and yet so entirely evil. He read so many wise words and was inspired, but so without hope. The Vrill had known all this for so long and still the pain of existence persisted. All the stunning new inventions were first and mainly used as engines of war. What could be done to solve this, in reality?
Then and quite by accident Kahnndhi became aware of the work of GeHozhn Krreendah. By then GeHozhn was old, he had lost all hope of changing society to that which everyone thought they would want. He has spent his life in research and perfection of his procedures. He had seen individual lives changed and so much for the better, and yet none of this had caought on in general. The world around him was as blood stained as it had ever been. Imagine his surprise when he was summoned to the palace!
GeHozhn went thinking that he would be executed and feeling approximately alright with that. He had worked so hard and produced real and testable results. A few agencies charged with causing Vrill individuals to think in specific ways so that they would purchase specific products had listened. That was not what he had strived for. He was old and tired and disappointed. If the new emperor wanted to eviscerate him, what exactly would it matter to the world or to himself? Not much. So he answered the invitation with a sense of finality and resignation.
If GeHozhn was surprised to be summoned to the royal presence imagine his surprise at being summoned not to his death, but to an amicable meeting with the emperor. The emperor wanted an end to exactly the same things which he so abhorred. The emperor saw that life could be so much easier and pleasant if the only evils being fought were intrinsic to the planet and not to Vrill with swords sharpened and minds set upon their use. The emperor had read some of GeHozhn's work and had been impressed but wanted proof. He wanted also details. He wanted to use these methods.
The two talked and talked. The meeting ran for days. GeHozhn felt energy as never before; he was again young. The emperor understood. Demonstrations were made, results were real. The emperor had GeHozhn work upon him and his issues. The troubles were resolved just as promised. Gradually Kahnndhi became convinced that while all the previous wise words were good, even great, that these wise words constituted the way to make them work. He and GeHozhm worked on a plan to use this method to instill a real understanding and love of the wise words of all Vrill cultures. No one would have to die, no one would have to be imprisoned. All had to learn and be made wise.
Just as GeHozhn's initial research had proceeded slowly and in steps, so did the studies of the wise emperor Kahnndhi with GeHozhn; so did the implementation among the vast public. But slow can be good, a glacier is slow but inexorable. To move slowly but never reversing makes for certain progress. Far sooner than anyone would have guessed possible the wisdom of GeHozhn as applied by the wisdom of Kahnndhi made all the collective wisdom of the Vrill truly the wisdom of every Vrill. It was the dawn of such a beautiful time. The things that can be accomplished by dedicated intelligent individuals all without fear, all without the insanity of crime and war and incessant irrational pain cannot be imagined by those not experienced with the same. These accomplishments were made by the Vrill, who advanced so quickly and steadily into their endless tomorrows.
They learned to cure diseases, to sail the seas and then to navigate the seas without sails. They learned to build self moving vehicles, to capture images, to speak over long distances, to make information instantly available. They flew the skies, and they flew to nearby celestial objects. And then they found truly high speeds possible, they left light behind. Further, by the time they did this, they were a wise and even noble race. Where they went they spread not empire, but wisdom and love and prosperity and advancement. Each other race they contacted was bettered by that touch. Eventually a vast tract of space would not be Vrill dominated, but happily Vrill influenced. Eventually many races would gladly identify themselves also as Vrill.
Of course, things do not always work out so well. There was another species who would #path as that of the Vrill. Where they diverged was that they never learned to unify desired beliefs with action. This is their story.
The Nadsisis progressively organized from chemicals to an intelligent and mobile species. They found fire and buoyancy and steel. They developed philosophies and governments. They invented warfare and advanced its terrible technologies. They worked hard and attained wealth and centralization. There were wise ones there too. These wise ones said clearly all the things that the wise say everywhere. And like everywhere else, these wise ones were so rarely listened to. Certainly their words could be found bound into lovely collections of words and illustrations; and like so many venerated words, these words were sterile and bore no fruit.
So the Nadsisis bore onward into their future more or less as everyone else does. They created intricate philosophies, discovered universal truths, built things with wonderful engineering, created music and art and poetry; all amid toils terrible and devastating wars. It seems that every advancement was quickly recruited for collective violence. It looked as though the various specific cultures of the beings: Nadsisi were doomed to extinction. But then came a particularly great and successful warrior called Hister (Literal translation: Eater of the Young), who managed to conquer enough of the planetྟs surface as to lend unification to all groups there. This warrior was in so many ways similar to the Vrill ViStanCoorill excepting that the Nadsisi leader did not die unexpectedly and soon after the conquest.
No, Hister lived a goodly long time and accomplished much more than military pacification of his fellows. For he was kept unduly busy with the task of keeping the pacified population passive. Just as have so many great leaders in so many places and at so many points in time have found; the military action is far easier than keeping a population passive when the individual beings within it do not want to be pacified. The empire was perhaps unified but very much unruly. Minor uprisings, murder of enforcers, general subversion was all too common. Tax revenues were not at all as might have been expected. Clearly, something had to be done, and Hister was nothing if not a doer.
Of course actions so subtle as the required were not exactly Hister's forte. However, he had a number of adjutants upon whose experience he could draw. So he did. He called a number of them into his presence and gave to them a mission. The mission was to locate or develop a method to truly unify all the different Nadsisis under his rule. The consequences of failure were not mentioned. Hister had no reason to state the obvious.
Across some period of time his officers submitted their plans for review. Some schemes were rejected out of hand and accompanied by various sorts of painful demise; others were attempted. These failed and the officers responsible paid even more dearly than did the ones whose plans had been laughed at. Laughter was rarely a good sign during those days on Planet Nad. Then one officer got it right. He spent his time in study of existing knowledge. He found that for the most part all wise ones said the same things. Of course it had to be realized that much of the wise words were not probably specifically what Hister was looking for. Wise words have a tendency to speak towards some form of peaceful wonder; this was Planet Nad. Hister wanted and needed a militaristic society. Still wise words hinting toward unification and duty were alright. Such words existed in abundance amid all cultures on Nad. The trouble was apparently that no one believed strongly enough to live by the words they professed to love.
Yes, but one thinker a Nadsisi called by the name Wikrd Bendla (Meaning: He Who Teases the Innocent) had written a great many volumes on his method of mind control. Wikrd had intended this to be used so to program his fellow Nadsisis to follow all those wonderful words they already know and loved. He thought that if they only would live up to the high expectations of those words; that society might become a polite place in which to live. Alas, his works were loved by a few professional mind benders, but largely ignored by all else. Wikard now was old and frail. He was also disappointed and bitter about having done so much work across so much time and with so few real results. Imagine his surprise when he was summoned to the pleasure of one of Hister's own lieutenants.
Now, Wikrd was old and feeble. He sent off a message to the office of the one who had sent for him, Bvormn, saying that he would be there as quickly as would be possible for one in his physical condition, and low financial status. Imagine his surprise when a royal vehicle and assistants arrived to help him to his appointment in a timely manner. Soon he was in the capital city and in the office of Bvormn answering a number of pointed questions.
When it was time for Bvormn to demonstrate his system, he was positive and happy. He would be the one not to be killed in some new and imaginative way. He has results and documentation to back up his assertions of success. Hister listened attentively and was convinced. Bvormn was made the director of public morale and the Bvormn/Bendla system was placed into usage. As the administrators utilized the methodology, they also monitored the results of its use. They learned quickly and improved the basic system. The system and its specific goals and statements soon was pervasive throughout the home world. Use of the system would never end. It worked, it worked well. The Nadsisis were soon entirely unified in purpose and belief. They were unified around a desire for power and centralized control. They became financially successful and began a tremendous spurt of technological advance.
They developed many types of vehicle and weapon and sensor. They sailed beneath the waves, they flew the skies, they placed objects into low orbit. The Nadsisi marched in unison.
Then another leader took note of the deeper sky. How many worlds might be out there just waiting to be conquered? How much wealth might be there for the taking? What might be the specific military needs to mount such a conquest? He quickly realized that the central issue was propulsion. The distances were great almost to the point of incomprehension. No matter how well the military may be trained and equipped; first you have to get it there! From then on in his life he was obsessed with space propulsion.
This Nadsisi leader KaLannt thought to initiate a program to develop space propulsion. In the traditional manner of Nadsisi rulers his terms for advancement were strict. During the development of high speed propulsion several hundred engineers and scientists would meet their doom. However, by the time of KaLannt much had been learned about the nature of the beings called Nadsisi. Because of this knowledge such punishments as death were meeted out only for truly severe failures and insubordination. In earlier days tens of thousands would have found early death; probably many of their family as well.
Motivated properly the members of the high speed propulsion unit made breakthrough after breakthrough. Successes mounted upon earlier successes and built a fine and solid structure of the universe and how one might manipulate it. From this program came advances in many fields. Life spans were increased. Prosperity became monumental. The very last cultural holdouts volunteered to join the great cause. Because of the immensity of the task, the program ran many years. KaLannt grew old but was satisfied with progress and his place in history as the one who would make conquest of the vast empty possible. He died and left rule to his son Woml.
It was during Woml's time that the quest for truly high speeds produced the first transit at speeds beyond that of light. It wasn't much faster, but a only by the important bit that demonstrated the possibility.. The basics were right, now all that was needed was refinement and extension of capability. During the remainder of his life, Woml would pursue this task single mindedly. While the overall trend was upward, there were notable failures and of course too further punishments. The body count grew, but in these kinder days it grew a bit more slowly. Woml grew old and died. The next ruler was called Talin (Meaning: prison warder).
Talin reverted to the old and brutal ways in his rush to make real and practical use of the science and technology that had been discovered and created. Talin understood enough of technology to see uses not noticed by others. He saw that much of propulsion technology was applicable to weaponry as well. He oversaw the completion of the first fast fleet. He then turned that fleet loose upon the galaxy. Talin would be both pleased and proud. Much of the galaxy would be astonished and in tears.
The great Nadsisi fleets grew in size and ability. The Nadsisi learned every technology; every tactic; every thing of military significance from every race they conquered. Their wealth and power grew by exponent. Races not yet touched by them came to them in advance of contact to make peace; to surrender. The empire flourished. All the weeping was by others, not by the Nadsisi.
One fine moment in time a sizable sub fleet was moving away from a planet, a home world just brought under submission without so much as a shot. Spirits were high aboard all the ships of the sub fleet. Another day another victory; the Nadsisis could barely think in real terms of anything but vistories, easy victories. Word usually preceded actual Nadsisi presence, rarely anymore did anyone try to resist inclusion into the burgeoning empire. Glasses were raised and toasts made. The empire had begun to grow old and fat as had its wariors.
Then a small ship was seen. There it was all alone in the permanent night of deep space. Tiny, alone, not much energy output, slow. Gunnery practice. Several Nadsisi capital ships fired on it at once.
Different races, different attitudes, different capabilities. The Vrill and Nadsisi were certainly different as night and day even despite their essentially similar early histories. Who the owners of the small feeble vessel were no one know. No one knows even now. Another race. What do they look like? Where did they come from? Who was to know, this was a nearly uncharted part of space; a part of space for the further Nadsisi expansion, of course it was unknown. A different place. A different race.
The small ship changed as the weapon fire hit it. It did not disappear. It did not explode in a fury of plasma flame. It changed in ways beyond my or any known language' ability to describe. It changed, strangely and just a bit and with that change in its appearance fully one third of the Nadsisi sub fleet ceased to be. Over six hundred ships, each bristling with systems of both offensive and defensive capability beyond anything known or even suspected were simply erased from physical existence. Then came a warning in the language of the Nadsisi, cold and formal and certain and definite; then yet more Nadsisi ships vanished instantly.
The commanders of the remaining ships barked out orders. The remaining sub fleet spun through one hundred and eighty degrees in several dimensions at once and punched their star drives. There was no point in staying near that small vessel, the unknown vessel, the bringer of swift death and defeat. The Nadsisi had their mood altered just that quickly from the joy of victory and prize taking to humility. They had no philosophical methods to handle humility and were all in a nearly perfectly bad mood.
It was in that frame of mind that they met exploration vessels of the Vrill. They shot up a great many of them and then followed the few intentionally left intact back to their home world. They destroyed that planet. Not only the Vrill who lived on it; they literally vaporized the planet itself. The Nadsisi race went on to exterminate the Vrill and all races who had taken on Vrill character.
When I was very young a neighbor boy asked my mother which she would rather be: Godzilla or the Devil. Quite a question was it not? And strangely relevant. Sometimes one simply cannot win.
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