Steve could not sleep this night, unable to avoid thinking it may be his last night. And he was probably not alone, as in several occasions he could hear people walking into the corridor, whispering with low voices, an even transporting large objects.
So he went out, on the lawn of the campus, watching the stars, in an ultramarine sky beginning to lighten to the east. He could not avoid to constantly check the location of Neptune, that he knew perfectly even if the planet was invisible to the naked eye.
Only about a quarter of an hour remained before the contact. Steve realized that, despite the early hour, there already were several offices illuminated.
As convened, he went to a door into the cliff, where he had never been before. It was an old water tank, now empty, and it was large enough to accommodate the whole team, even leaving a fairly large space in the centre. Rolf had to bring the foam pads of the karate dojo, so they could sit comfortably. Almost everybody was already there, and the last guests were following in the corridor, just behind Steve. In the room, the only sound was water drops falling from an old rusty pump. Overnight, Rolf and his team had pulled cables and installed laptop computers. They even took the risk of activating a direct link to Vilayah, as one of the screens was showing a similar meeting with Ekarpan, who seemed to prepare something. «With innuendo only, said Rolf to Ulrike who was holding the microphone. This connection is not secure, it must look like an experiment on telepathy, about a game. Words like psychophysics or lokouten must never be uttered». Sangye Tchögyal was behind Rolf, impenetrable, with on his side Yonten Drolma, smiling, her eyes closed, as she used to do.
Another screen was showing Neptune, as seen by the quantum telescope of Shedrup Ling, in the mountains north of Lhassa. Neptune and the black sphere were now close enough to appear on the same screen.
«Its speed does not change» said Hans Rufbach, who was in charge of the telescope. Rolf had booked this observation time under another name, and the image was arriving to Palomas through coded and anonymized channels.
Stress was building up in the room, as the time was closing up. Hans was doing the count down, and, when only some seconds remained, a tense silence fell on the attendance.
«Thirty seconds. Speed still unchanged.»
«Contact in twenty seconds».
The only noises were water drops, difficult breath, and prayer murmurs.
«Nine» The image was now showing a black circle growing at a visible rate, before disappearing behind the disk of the planet. Into some seconds, everything could explode. They would be the first to be informed of the end of the world, and hardly four hours would remain before the shock wave reaches the Earth. Some had speculated that the compression of Neptune would be strong enough to spew thousands of small black holes...
«Six, still unchanged».
«Five». On the other screen, Ekarpan's face was also getting tense.
«Four». Steve's heart was beating mad.
«One... eh, oh, zero, it cancelled its speed, I no more find it, ah, got it again. Oh gosh, it was a hair width, looks like it stopped just behind Neptune.
A huge relief exploded in the room, with some screams, followed by a hubbub of anxious murmurs. «Hans, what is it doing?» «I don't know. It stopped moving. At least its apparent diameter does not change. Ho! Look: it hides one of the rings behind the planet. It is just behind. It's the size of Earth, or a little more. But what the heck is it doing? Nothing is moving now.»
There was a growing hustle in the room, everyone trying to figure what happened. Surrealist, the voice of Ulrike Meinster was trying, in code, to explain the situation to Ekarpan: «The Troll stopped just in front of Rivendell, and moves no more. It is a great Troll, a little more than three metres. He completely stopped moving, and nobody knows what he is to do. Sh... darn, nobody finds the continuation of the game».
Suddenly Tchögyal snapped imperiously his fingers, bringing some silence. But he did not spoke, in a way to request everybody to feel what was happening. «Gandalf shows up and now everyone gets silent» commented Ulrike.
The first, Madame Eraert, corrected her posture, as in a meditation lesson, enticing all the others to do the same.
Then Steve felt in his turn. He first thought that Liu was appearing to him, but he quickly realized that it was a very different vibration. He closed his eyes, suddenly feeling a deep white peace, as is any threat had suddenly disappeared of the whole universe. He though he saw a red gleam, but surprise cries made him open his eyes.
A large white sphere was now sitting in the centre of the room. It looked completely smooth, very bright, but without dazzling. «The psychic light» thought Steve. But how could he still be able to think in the presence of such a wonderful manifestation? He suddenly felt filled with this delightful white light, soothed, refreshed, revitalized, any trouble dissipated, any sadness cleaned up, his spirit completely new again, as the spirit of a little child who never yet encountered evil or sorrow! The anxiety which filled the room a few seconds earlier was swept away, and even Ulrike had stopped commenting.
For three minutes, nothing happened; everyone was enjoying this marvellous vibration of peace and purity. It was stronger than the orgasm, but however perfectly calm and relaxed. Probably all were clearly feeling this all along their spine, like in the Kundalini Yoga. And it was perfectly controlled, no wild or disturbing thought was disrupting this marvellous continuum of happiness!
Then, little by little, the sphere became translucent, then transparent, while increasing in size so that to include them all. Three silhouettes appeared at the centre.
One was human, and he took colour and density, without losing the warmth he was radiating. He was a man, dressed like the images of Bodhisattvas in the wonderful style of the Ajanta caves: long black hair without beard, tan skin, royal blue skirt and gold jewellery on his bare hairless chest. He nodded toward Sangye Tchögyal and Yonten Drolma, who looked really flabbergasted to see him. The silhouette of the centre was white and half transparent, without defined shape, very tall, about two meters and ninety, and surprisingly slim. It remained white and translucent all the time, undulating slowly like algae. The third had brown skin, humanoid too, but smaller, with a curiously swollen bottom. Yet it was not from some obesity: this body was perfectly balanced, though with different proportions from the human, as some cartoon character. He was resting on what looked as a long shepherd's crooked staff, wearing a sort of pastel orange djellaba, very ample, with long colorful ribbons hanging down to the carpet.
The sight of these beings was incredibly beautiful, and they emanated such an happiness that Steve felt a tear running onto his cheek. Each of them had his own vibration: the «Bodhisattva» was emanating a coloured and sensual joy; the tall one looked like a much more abstract mind, but suffused with peace and wisdom; at last the «shepherd» or podgy shaman was evoking the quiet happiness of an harmonious life into the bosom of nature, free of all the problems that the human mind creates himself.
They still allowed themselves for some minutes, lost as they were all into the delicious contemplation of these sublime beings, their minds devoid of any thought. It is that they were really superb, these three ones, of this beauty which awakes a delicious longing for purity and paradise!
It was Rolf who first dared to spoil this delicious silence with words. «Who are you?» he muttered like a young lover who does his declaration.
There was no audible reply, but everyone felt the gentle amusement of the three beings. Only Tchögyal giggled, which, as everyone knew, was meaning that they had first to greet and honour such superior beings, before asking them questions.
Then the answer came, exploding like a jet of flame. They all had into their heads the colossal vision of the entire galaxy, evolving in a time-lapse of some seconds, since its formation until now, spiral arms whirling, billions of stars forming, billions of planets awakening to life and consciousness, wonderful animal or humanoid civilizations discovering happiness and wisdom, spreading their light like flashes which at once disappeared out of reach of any material eye, toward wonderful or delicate psychical paradises: the famous spiritual transition! This vision of bursts of light, joy and happiness, subdued them, filling their entire consciousness. Even the evil which was not without defiling the childhood of civilizations just appeared as short flashes of shadow, vanishing as soon as appearing. Then they realized that the «shepherd» was pointing at something with his staff: every time a planet was disappearing, small discrete lights remained, travelling secretly from star to star, and gathering into small groups. They formed Mandalas, invisible to the eye of flesh, but still present in the cosmos, in order to live and travel into it. Some were placed in these strange giant material shell sometimes observed in orbit around the missing planets. So, little by little, from all the planets, people with a Bodhisattva motivation were gathering into the mandalas of the Cosmic Guards...
Then suddenly everything became clear: the black sphere was one of those giant mandalas, tirelessly travelling the material universe under the form of a psychical texture. So, the inside, purely spiritual, was still keeping the contact with the material world! To the eye of the quantum telescope, it appeared black, because it blocked its vision; to the eye of flesh it appeared as a bright white light, unless it chooses to be invisible; at last to the eye of the mind it was a paradise of flowers, trees and birds, populated with thousands of billions of people who all had reached the highest possible stages of the evolution of consciousness in this universe!
The Mandala, of an entirely psychic nature, had no link with any peculiar material place. Just as any abstract creation, it was non-local. So the Mandala could provoke anywhere the formation of a psychical texture, and change the place of this texture at will, appearing or disappearing, jumping instantly from one end of the galaxy to the other, without any intermediate path, or still moving at fantastic speeds forbidden to material objects due to Einstein's relativity. The small white sphere in the room, which was now entirely surrounding them, was an emanation, a reduced model of the main sphere, still related to it by a psychical link independent of the distance. And, very curiously, the sphere which was also floating in the room at Vilayah looked as its duplicate, or more precisely, there was only one sphere in the two places simultaneously! And they were hearing Ekarpan and his friends speaking into their own Dumrian language, while understanding what he was saying! Ant it was not the Internet link, strangely silent at this moment.
Liu Wang, Steve's wife who died ten days earlier, was sitting beside him, as she always used to do, wearing a long purple robe, fresh and delicate as a flower petal. But her small fifties wrinkles had disappeared, revealing perfectly smooth and sweet cheeks, like those of a young child. In a psychical texture, it is not surprising to see her take a visible appearance, and Steve noted the presence of another ten of strangers in the room, including a kind of Hindu yogi in white, next to Madame Heraert. Liu was keeping her eyes down, as she felt that this contact, necessarily ephemeral, could be a terrible frustration for Steve. He tried to extend his hand toward Liu, but he was curiously unable to make the slightest move. Yet he felt the contact and sensual warmth of his wife's hand, much stronger than usual!
He was also to realize later that all the perceptions were curiously distorted, and much stronger than the ordinary bodily perceptions. All the participants were curiously motionless, and Steve felt himself totally unable of the slightest gesture. Several people were speaking, but their lips did not moved... However everyone was understanding what was said, even if they did not knew the language. Vision was strange, and much more beautiful, without grey, without shady parts, warm and very clear, even in the tiniest details. However the video screens were showing only still images of Vilaya. In the moment, Steve felt no astonishment, but later, remembering the scene, he could not avoid noticing a long list of other incredible details.
And to what activities the beings of the mandala were spending their time?
Once again the answer was given in a stunning shortcut. Unfortunately many inhabited worlds pass through wars and suffering. Some are destroyed, disappearing forever into the darkness of the material cosmos, before they could reach wisdom and the spiritual transition. Such an evocation awakened a poignant sadness in the hearts of everybody: so much hope, so many projects, forever cut off from existence! However if this was the karma that their inhabitants had built, there was not much to do against it. But a planetary civilization is never a monolithic block: it is always composed of diverse individuals, and, while some engage into evil and destruction, there always are others seeking to evolve and develop happiness. Thus the destruction of their world deprives these people of their possibilities of development, especially in worlds which did not developed spiritual techniques. This is a serious injustice that the people of the Mandala, the Cosmic Guardians, the Knights of the Stars, are trying to prevent, when this is possible. They certainly cannot handle all the wars and injustices that are happening on a planet by the fault of their barbaric and backward people, but if the destruction of the planet itself is at stake, then the Cosmic Guardians try to save it, using the colossal psychophysical means they have accumulated since the ten billion years of existence of their Order.
Suddenly a shocking vision invaded the minds of the attendees of the Palomas meeting: a young child was slowly dying, tied to a surgery table, his belly open, both kidneys removed for transplantation. His only hope was that they would soon take his heart, which would end his suffering. Further, in a vivisection centre, an old woman was groaning in pain, tied since weeks to a machine which racked her body. Still further, a slave, equipped with an electric saw, was cutting needles of nuclear fuel, in a yard of bare earth. He was promised emancipation for this job, of course without telling him that he would have only one hour left to live. He could even not finish his work, as his hands were already burning him as if he dipped them in boiling water...
These horrific visions, just after such wonders, made so violent a contrast, that even Steve could not avoid to moan, while others yelled. But soon the reason for this horror appeared: Ouarkatan, the planet with the incredible dictatorship, where crazy geneticians were trying to destroy all the natural genes, in order to get completely controllable creatures, totally self-centred and pleasure-seeker, but devoid of any emotion. And especially without this compassion they hated so much, as of an absolute weakness, an inexcusable flaw. If they worked their plans out, then their civilization would remain blocked for millions of years, without any possibility of evolution, in a slow suffering with no way out.
They all had a last vision: the lokouten on Ouarkatan, launching a revolt and destroying the laboratories of shame. Then suddenly the psychical texture which occupied all the room was absorbed in a small white sphere, one metre of diameter, floating on the middle of the carpet, allowing them to recover their faculty to control themselves their own thought. The unknown characters and Liu were no more visible, but Steve was still feeling the warmth of his companion besides him. The screen of the video link was moving again. Steve was feeling as if he drowsed and dreamed for some seconds, and suddenly recovering the use of his body and speech.
In facts, the texture was not completely absorbed, and, if they were perfectly able to control their thoughts, they were still feeling an incredible state of dynamic and positive peace, that even the horrific visions of Ouarkatan could not break. Then it appeared clearly that they were still connected to the other sphere on Dumria: they were distinctly hearing people speaking in the hoarse language of the Orassan, and into the musical and refined tone of Antüs. Soon everybody could hear English, German, French, Tibetan, Draminyian, Orassan, and everyone was able to understand everybody! So much that the video link with Dumria was becoming useless! However, the dumrian voices they were hearing could be illusions. So, Rolf had to test that what they were hearing in the earphones and the room was the same. After causing an interplanetary audio feedback which made everybody shiver, he seemed satisfied. In order to discuss freely away from any computer spy, he unplugged the microphones and the camera.
Everyone was in a strange state of joyful exploration of the curious effects of the more discreet psychophysical bubble they were still in. Only Sangye Tchögyal and Yonten Drolma, sitting in lotus in the back, were remained silent, although visibly amused by the fuss. In a vast hubbub, Dumrians and Earthlings together were comparing their understanding of the views given by the three beings. They were remarkably consistent, even if they were not using the same words. But the words were hardly important in this environment where everyone was directly understanding the thoughts of the others!
After some minutes of merry disorder, Rolf regained the direction of the gathering.
«OK. We now know what this sphere is: a missing planet which...» a hubbub interrupted him: nobody understood this! «Well, test passed. It is not a missing planet, it is a mandala, and we all got the same thing. These beings, that I may call the Cosmic Guards, or the Cosmic Knights, undertook the task of protecting the evolution of the planets against blockages or dead ends caused by natural catastrophes, or by the psychological troubles of their inhabitants, such as war, pollution or dictatorship. A kind of interplanetary UN, but which would rather operate as a knight order, or Jedi, with its own means and taking its own decisions, independently of any planetary power. And they usually not immix into the business of the planets, intervening only in cases where there is a risk of total loss of a civilisation. Right. And it seems that, according to this plan, they request us to do one thing: to use the lokouten to go and bring some order on Ouarkatan. How they plan to do exactly, and why this method, I don't know, but in any way their intent is clear.
«The problem is, as we were told yesterday, there is a serious risk of getting the lokouten diverted for dictatorship and abuse. So, to settle their account to the torturer dictators of Ouarkatan, this looks a sympathetic project. But I want us to think by ourselves, about the opportunity of doing so, and the deontological precautions to be taken for...»
He could not continue, into the fuss which arose: his word looked outrageous to all these people immersed in this wonderful aura of clear light. How dare he? But Tchögyal's voice arose: «He is right, we need to think about these things by ourselves. We must accept such a mission only if it is useful, not because we are like babies cuddled in an aura of peace and confidence that we would be prettily unable to maintain by ourselves.»
He just said this, that the central sphere regained some volume, allowing to see the «shepherd». Within seconds, everyone understood: The light beings were perfectly agreeing with Rolf's scruples, and they would withdraw completely until noon. Then, if the group accepted the mission, the light beings would take care of the transportation of the lokouten on Ouarkatan, so that this would absolutely not be a problem. But they needed very large ones, not the small humanoid lokouten of the Vilayah Lab.
Then suddenly the sphere disappeared, allowing everyone to recover his most complete freedom of though, but also the sad «freedom» of indulging oneself into psychological defilements, such as anger. This made them the feeling of entering into old stiff and muddy clothes, and some defiance was voiced openly to Rolf. Without effect, as him also had recovered his legendary bad temper.
Rolf proposed that each could think by himself, and take profit of it to have a lunch, as the end of the world was postponed.
After a good breakfast, people were more calm. Frustration had dissipated, and everyone was more or less understanding that they had to take their decision by themselves, for its usefulness. But numerous questions were still pending, and some feared that the whole affair would be just a manipulation, with the purpose of making them commit some act which real scope or consequences would be very different of what they were told.
They therefore resumed the discussion at about nine in the morning. Tchögyal quickly tried to reassure everyone, saying that he knew the «Bodhisattva», a prominent figure in Tibet, who had gained enlightenment some centuries ago. Steve Jason also explained that in the psychical world, it is very difficult to lie, because the lie itself emanates a very unpleasant vibration, which is very easy to spot, so much that the psychophysicists called it the Pinocchio effect. However, in order to detect it, one has to get his own mind cleansed of his own unpleasant vibration, which was not necessarily the case for all the people here. A mind polluted with its own lies and manipulations could see others only through this dirty veil, so he was quite unable to assess the honesty or the perfidy of others! This is how the psychic world protects itself automatically. But several people, some German technicians from the KRG and the young Jerôme Eraert, were still expressing doubts about the sincerity of the light beings, hence about the relevance of a military action under their command.
The discussion was turning to one of these useless verbal fights, where each tries uselessly to convince the other, and Steve was feeling the resulting unpleasant stress building up. Suddenly he heard Tchögyal murmuring his name, in a very discrete but commanding tone, with a gesture of his hand. He also saw Ulrike Meinster, Niels Dreyermann and Kurt Wegener, getting up without apparent plan, and sneaking out silently. Madame Eraert was already out. Steve understood, and he even not asked the Lama what he was expecting of him: in order to efficiently prepare to ride his lokouten, he had to thoroughly concentrate, avoiding any energy loss into useless disputes.
Some minutes later, the whole rider's team and their assistants were together into the relaxation room near the sensory isolation caissons. Rolf was giving sedative pills. Ulrike spoke:
«This discussion is perfectly pointless. In fact Rolf already made his decision. We go to Ouarkatan. He his fully confident with the Cosmic Guardians, and so are we. The only question is what we shall do next, to address the danger of the lokouten. Fortunately, there are no plans on Earth, and none of the engineers would disclose what he knows. For the rest, we have sent messages to Dumria, and even Rolf plans to disconnect the interstellar beam from the network, so that he can tell unhindered his clear and detailed position. We, here, the best we have to do is to be prepared. We shall know what is going on at noon. Unless Tchögyal... oh, right he is coming.»
On Dumria, in the Vilayah centre, the team of Enken and Ekarpan also received the visit of the sphere of light, and its three occupants, with the difference that instead of the Earth's «Bodhisattva», it was Utulpan, a legendary Dumrian king, who appeared. Saying that Utulpan was a king is just a poor translation of a typically Dumrian concept: more than one hundred and twenty thousands years ago, he had spoken and shown as an example the subtle rules which since founded the marvellous Dumrian society. In the step he invented writing, to keep these rules visible forever. Of course, he was dead since a very long time, but nobody felt the need to succeed him, so he still was «the king», a necessarily unique character into the dumrian mind: the founder and initiator of their civilisation. And his infinitely grateful memory was transmitted for all this time, and a myriad of legends had be attached to his image, so that it was often difficult to discern reality from fiction. But all the Dumrians were loving Utulpan as the one who had laid down the compassionate and non-Aristotelian laws which founded the happiness and harmony of their society.
The «shepherd» in djellaba had appeared again, but he gave much more detailed instructions to the Erkarpan's technicians.
«We must remove the psychophysical brains from the robots», suddenly said the later. His action following his words, he took the plastic head representing Liu Wang, and started to remove the screws which were visible on the naked skull. All the content of the robots was of standard parts, except the electronic brains that the Vilayah team developed specially after Rolf's plans. And still it had a totally standard interface, so that it could just be unplugged and re-plugged, and works immediately. Once removed the pink plastic shell, appeared a metallic frame, with plenty of wires, optical fibres and ultra-miniaturised apparatus, such as the cameras, the mimicker, the smell sensor, or the phonator. This frame could be unfolded into three parts, with in the middle a parallelepiped box made of open worked metal sheet, holding numerous electronic boards, each of the size of a notebook, all plugged on a common bus backplane. This was nothing else than the «electronic brain» of the robots, with its optical printed circuit board imitating the human brain (or more exactly the Dumrian brain, but they were programmed to emulate both). These boards were featuring ordinary integrated circuits, but a knowledgeable person would soon notice cases with unknown identification numbers: the incredible psychophysical transducers imagined by Rolf Gensher, each able of receiving the influence of a disincarnated human consciousness, and to translate it into material electronic signals. Each special integrated circuit case included a series of four thousand psychophysical transducers of micronic size. Several tens of thousands were required to achieve the whole set of functions of the natural human brain, spread into all the circuitry emulating it, in every places where a disincarnated consciousness had to influence a function of this brain. But, as Ekarpan was understanding now, only some, discretely implemented on an apparently ordinary board, could change any industrial robot into a fearsome killer, on the commands of whatever unimaginable occult power. Not much imagination was required to take a dreadful advantage of the giant multivators of the Dumrian woodcutters, tall like buildings and equipped with fifteen metre longs chainsaw blades...
In a matter of minutes, the technicians gathered all the printed circuit boards of the electronic brains of the eight lokouten, more a laptop computer for programming them. Anahata and Orea, in the meanwhile, had disappeared into the sensory isolation chambers.
«We have only some hours, said Ekarpan. Where can we find big enough multivators?»
The multivators are humanoid robots, but with a huge size: some of them are over fifty metres high! The first were steam powered, and the Dumrians use them since thousands of years for the construction of large buildings, bridges, or for logging. In the hands of greedy forest exploiters as the Earth had to endure, these machines would be awful instruments of destruction, but on the sweet Dumria they allowed to cut only the selected trees without causing damage to other trees of the beautiful primary forests of this planet. Thus the Dumrians could take all the wood they needed, without having to carve these hideous forest roads which disfigure so many forests and mountains on Earth. They could even maintain these forests into magical gardens, while keeping the broader biodiversity, and forest managers on Earth were more and more following them, in order to protect the precious few fragments of primary forest still remaining on their planet. Apart from their large size, multivators were not differing from the other Dumrian robots, and in particular they had standard electronic brains. Even the animation software differed only by the enormous size to manage.
-There are some not far from here, to the windmills, in the G major base, replied Nips. They use them for maintenance. I think there are twelve.
-We can go here with the subway, and during the tempest, the people of the windmills are all playing indoor games.
-Good, like this we don't need to give explanations.
-Yes, but how to go to the subway, into the tempest? We cannot get the truck out, it will fly away at once. Do you remember, in the beginning we had left one outdoors, we never found any remain of it.
-It is becoming weaker, this tempest.
-Not enough. And we have no time to wait. Take the bulldozer, put all the gear into a luggage container, and put the container on the handling forks of the bulldozer. It is slow, but at least we are sure it will not be flown away. In more its windows are shielded, it can pass even in the strongest tempests. Just it will lose all its paint again!
-Hey, but the container will not stay on the forks, with that wind.
-Weld it. And don't forget to bring the oxypack into the bulldozer, otherwise you will be unable to un-weld it once arrived in the subway.»
Enken and Elaminaroa entered.
«Philosophers, what do you think of this all? Do we have your green light?»
Enken and Elaminaroa had remained away in their little play room, and they only had a glimpse of the light beings, for a brief moment on their monitor screen, without even sharing the communion with their aura of peace. This, and some other odd details like the paralysis feeling, happened because the encounter took place in a psychical time. In facts, it lasted only a fraction of a second in the physical time, a phenomenon commonly observed since the 1970 years on Earth, into CE3 and other psychical episodes. So these two had not seen the messages themselves, and the others had to repeat them all.
«For the principle, yes, I do not see any scheme in going on Ouarkatan to settle this problem, right on the contrary, and not either to work under the commands of these beings. For the other issues, this does not change the dilemma: as long as there will be lokouten science knowledge hiding somewhere, there will always be a risk. This is as for the nuclear wastes: it is enough of a mistake somewhere, which will always end to happen! So we know that they shall leak, whatever the cautions taken.»
Less than thirty minutes later, Nips and three other technicians were piling up into the cabin of the bulldozer, starting its fuel cell, while the others were pushing the cars into the rear of the shed. At last the door opened, and the scream of the tempest filled everything. The air was so heavy with sand that visibility was not further than ten metres, and, even in the hangar, it was impossible to breathe without anti-dust masks. They would certainly need more than one hour to join the subway station at Vilayah, even with using the ultrasound camera.
«Oof, said Ekarpan. They are gone. Hope they will not lose their way, we can see nothing outdoor. Pff, the shed is once again filled with sand.»
Then the technicians shifted their attention toward Orea and Anahata, who were slowly preparing to their mission. But there was nothing peculiar needed to help them, only to leave them quiet.
One hour later, the bulldozer was arrived in the subway station. «It was not easy, Nips told with the radio, the small barchan near the brown cliff has advanced further, and this time we had to make a long detour. We did not tried to drive too close, we would be buried in the sand whirl.»
Suddenly a small alarm rang.
«Eh! This is Palomas! They unplugged the beam!
-First message: they simulated a malfunction, and rerouted the traffic toward other public beams. So we can discuss freely. Super!
Ulrike Meinster's face appeared on the screen, holding a bundle of optical fibres which really looked like gnawed by rats. She explained that discussions were underway on whether to go on Ouarkatan, but in facts the main crew of Palomas was actually preparing to go. Quickly Ekarpan, Enken, Ulrike and Rolf could exchange their views and their doubts. They soon realized that they were actually agreeing on the essential: to trust the Cosmic Guardians and go on Ouarkatan. With such a great opportunity offered to solve this terrible problem, nor the Earthlings neither the Dumrians would care for details. The lokouten were certainly a serious issue, but they would see this immediately afterwards. Thus, strong of a renewed confidence, the two teams remained in direct contact until the end.
The four Dumrian technicians arrived into one of the windmills maintenance centres of the Thoradra, the G Major base, which was an isolated place in the middle of the desert, beaten by a tremendous wind. As they expected, there was nobody in the technical buildings, and they could easily enter into the vast hall with the multivators, avoiding the inhabitation parts of the base, where they could encounter somebody. Everything in this place was gigantic, starting with storage for windmill blades, each thirty metres long. They also saw one of the powerful superconductive rotating frequency changers, large as a house, which was used to send the wind's gigawatts toward the power network of the subway, and from here to the users abroad on Dumria. Thanks to its magnetic levitation bearings, the enormous machine, although presently running at full power, was only emitting a soft hum, subtly modulated by wind gusts, with some higher harmonics. As the frequencies were tuned in fifth, this sound was rather pleasant to hear, like a triad with the great organs, with in the background some softly thundering large tubes. A group of smaller converters, each the size of a car, were used to feed the acceleration and braking tracks of the subway station itself, at lower frequencies. Each of these machines was sounding with a different chord, into a curious symphony animated only with slow and soft fluctuations. When a shuttle was passing on the main line, the converters were resounding each with a slow glissando: the song of the subway...
At last they arrived into the multivators hall. Let us imagine an immense elongated room, with walls sloping inward at forty-five degrees. They could hear the muffled thumping of the wind on the large shielded door, more the hiss of the sand on the steel. As our friends expected, they found twelve aligned multivators, into a strange squatted posture, where they still had the height and size of six storey blocks each. No search of any human semblance into these huge machines all in steel beams and trusses painted with lively colours; however the proportions of their limbs, copied on an average Dumrian, gave them a strange living look. But they were really gigantic, more than fifty metres high, the height of a seventeen storey block.
A footbridge allowed to climb up to the heads of the enormous robots. They were simple glass cabins, still without any intent of human semblance, but painted with complex patterns: even with such technical ends, the Dumrians could not do without beauty. Each gigantic head even had two storeys. On the upper deck were two ordinary seats and an exoskeleton to control the machine. It was also possible to remote operate the multivators, but most technicians preferred to be into the machine and look with their own eyes at what it was doing. For this, the windshield was widely open in the front and toward the bottom, and its shape was roughly of a face with two bulky eyes, giving it a strange and somewhat threatening look. But it also was strongly shielded: on such a powerful machine, the least false move could lead to a catastrophe. On the lower deck were the air conditioning, bunks, some food storage and toilets. A simple low cupboard in the rear of the upper deck gathered all the electronic controls of the huge machine, including the brain.
Curiously, one of the main uses of these machines was not work itself, but the transportation of large parts, like the windmill blades. This much contributed to the absence of large roads on Dumria: a good walker in a multivator could easily made a thousand of kilometres in one day, wearing a hundred tons, or a whole house, snapped on his back like a rucksack. At night, he was sleeping in the bunk, leaving the machine squatted. The huge multivator paths could be seen in many places, connecting large factories together, or in the dumrian space centres.
«Fine, it is also standard hardware. They did not made the last update, but it should do well.
-No problem, the softs we are to install also accept the old version.
-Let us try on this one, if it works we shall do the same on six others.
-We take the strongest. With my opinion, we are not on Ouarkatan just to speak. There will be a punch-up party, as they say on Earth.
-We are not warriors, Nips.
-No, and I would not like to be one. But I warn thee that in front of such cheaters as on Ouarkatan I would have no hesitation. Just look at what they do... Okie, I opened the main rack. We just need to unplug the standard brain and replace it by ours. Heee those guies, they imagine that because we are peaceful we are unable of self defence. There will be some who will get a bit of a no-good surprise, in a moment.
-Perfect. Here is our beast. The worse with Ouarkatan, is not what they do, but what they plan to do.
-True. This is why we are coming into the affair.
-Thou speakest like a warrior, Nips!
-Again, no, but I must confess I like to play to some Earth computer games.
-Punch up games? Nip's friend uttered with horror.
-Oh, no, not this, I tried, but it is not interesting, in fact. Rather strategy games, war roleplay. But I did not tell them that I am a Dumrian, and they did not figured out, hey hey!
-Ah, thou arst a good warrior, then.»
Half an hour later, the software was completely reconfigured and the multivator was working exactly like the small lokouten in Vilayah. Even audition and speech were connected on the radio link. They just had to do the same with seven other robots. At last, about a quarter of an hour before the new contact, the eight machines were softly trembling, ready to work as lokutens, fuel loaded, their powerful fuel cells on and humming.
«We have to be careful they don't break the footbridge when trying to stand up.
-Normally there is a safety provided: the multivators cannot give all their power when they detect an obstacle with the ultrasounds. But you still have to tell them to be very careful when incorporating these machines.
-And us, we have better to hide, because if a machine gets out of control, we are in a great trouble. We can inhibit any movement until the H hour, but after...
-Seems that something is provided for this: there is a small safety bunker, this way.
-Got it. Let's go here, and wait for the moment. I have Enken's remote control, if ever something odd starts to happen, the multivators will automatically get stuck, as soon as we stop emitting the signal.
-Hey, but we have a heck of a problem.
-These machines are filled with dumrian bacteria! It would be a unimaginable ecological catastrophe on Ouarkatan!
-Hey but this is true. How to do? We have no disinfection mean.
-And if they come back on Dumria, after?
-Then they will be contaminated by Ouarkatan bacteria, and we get them too. In both ways, it is a total mess.
-Well, we can ask that they don't come back. The G major people would not be happy, but at least we shall not be all condemned to death.
-We must ask to the light beings. They certainly planned something for this. If they are able to wander from planet to planet, it is certainly not the first time they are facing this problem. And they would not send us out there just to destroy all life.
-Into their psychical bodies, they don't have to bother with this. But did they realized that the problem of the interplanetary biological contamination arises for ALL the material objects?»
* * *
At Palomas, the discussion had frayed into one of these useless verbal sparring matches between the four or five last, Jerôme Eraert and some lower technicians, while all those who really had something to do had left for their activities. Rolf suggested that a meal would be served at eleven, in order to be ready before the contact. But here also, those who really had something to do took just a snack, or passed over the meal time.
At noon, time of the contact, there was no one left in the old tank, so it is in the relaxation room, near the sensory isolation caissons, that the white sphere appeared again. Rolf had all the screens moved to this room, and, after checking that everybody who was really needed was here, he had locked both doors of the access airlocks, and cut off all the communications, save toward Dumria.
They found back with delight the wonderful vibration of peace and simplicity of the light beings. But their shyness of the morning had disappeared. They had prepared more than a dozen questions, several of which probably few of you dear readers have thought. As in the morning, the same sphere of light was also in the meeting room on Dumria, and the questions seemed to come indifferently from Dumria or from Earth, each in a different language, but everybody understood, due the wonderful psychical texture.
«How do you plan to transport the multivators from Dumria to Ouarkatan?»
They had the vision of a sphere of light, a psychical texture, appearing into the hangar of the G major base, and surrounding the multivators. Then, this texture unconnected itself of the physical space, floating into the nothingness, «like a missing planet» somebody remarked. At last the texture reconnected itself on Ouarkatan, delivering the multivators close to one of the laboratories of madness. Some regrettable but necessary violence later, the multivators recovered the shelter of the texture, and proceeded to the next laboratory.
«Aren't we taking the risk of making innocent victims if we act in such a brutal way?»
The answer was unfortunately yes, but they would be guided at best to spare the innocent and reach only the guilty. The karma of indiscriminate brutality of the Ouarkians did not allowed them for a more tactful action, so they had to do with. On the other hand, the Cosmic Guardians took the commitment to take all the consciousness of the innocent victims into a psychical paradise specially created for the Ouarkians. After all, it was a much more pleasant fate than staying alive on Ouarkatan, but everyone agreed that this was not an excuse for killing innocent people.
«What is our intervention meant to do, exactly?»
The karma of individualism of the Ouarkians allowed them with very little cosmic help. So the intervention would be limited to only eliminating the scientistists cast and their dangerous genetic knowledge. For other matters, the Ouarkians had to find solutions by themselves. But they had far more resources than hinted by the observation of the dull daily life under the dictatorship. In particular, if organized religions and ancient cultures had effectively disappeared from the surface of Ouarkatan, they were nonetheless still existing into the imagination of many people on this planet. Only little would be needed to allow them for resurfacing. Of course they will have to go through all the pitfalls of fundamentalism and sects, but how can we understand these things without having experienced them oneself?
«How to be sure that this danger would be really eliminated?»
This would be done easily, as the scientistist ideology and its dangerous knowledge were detained by only some thousands people living into closed space, without heavy military protection. Other technical knowledge was existing elsewhere, into factories held by citizens, but not so threatening.
«Why do the Cosmic Guards do not intervene themselves, when they have very powerful means to do so? Why are they calling for the help of Earthlings and Dumrians?
It then appeared into the consciousness of the attendees a complex tangle of karmic relations between the three planets. As a matter of facts, reincarnation on another planet is certainly a rare phenomenon, very unlikely at an individual level. But, at the huge time scale of the evolution of planets and civilizations, it is very common and relevant. Thus, contrarily to what most astronomers and exobologists were thinking, the planets do not evolve in isolation of each other. Interference and even exchanges are not uncommon. So Earth had karmic connections with Ouarkatan, dating especially from the epoch of the Roman Empire, where the two civilizations had evolved together, and in a very similar way, thus allowing for numerous individual exchanges. More, it was perverted Earthlings from nero's entourage, reincarnated on Ouarkatan, who were the primarily cause of the dictatorship! These exchanges went scarce, with the disappearance of the atmosphere of the Roman Empire. But they are happening again since the early 20th Century, where they started to inspire some scientistist, atheist and materialistic trends on Earth. Especially, the cynical false «scientific theories» of the twentieth century, which denied consciousness or rejected all morality, such as behaviourism, were the direct result of interferences from the cast of scientists of Ouarkatan, instead of, as generally thought, influences of satanic origin. Another very visible interference were the grotty-punk movements in the late 20th century, with their cynical «libertarian» ideologies and their horrible perverted «art», rap and tags, which origin in the abominable Ouarkian imperial palaces was far too obvious. It was Ouarkian methods of mass manipulation which allowed these movements to so effectively break the idealism of the youth, and to poison a whole generation with egocentric and anti-effort ideologies. Very close relations also took place between the Earth and Dumria... several million years ago. In this time, Earth was still an animal planet dominated by apes, and Dumria was in a similar state. The stake was the differentiation between the chimpanzee model, strategist with clan mind, and the bonobo model, peaceful and relational. It was the chimpanzee model that led to hominisation on Earth, while the bonobo model prevailed on Dumria. This explained the precise differences between these two civilizations, which however are profoundly similar. And these were just two examples, other exchanges also took place with animal civilizations. For instance, many Bakouta beings who could not follow the spiritual transition of their world, went to reincarnate on Earth into dolphins bodies, where they could resume their evolution at the point it was interrupted. At higher evolution levels than the today humans, conscious and deliberate contacts are actively taking place between the beings of many missing planets, who passed into the psychical world, for example with Centaurus 1296 (See «The Missing Planets»), and also with psychical worlds such as Shambalah, the embryo of a future psychical Earth, where the most advanced Earthlings are gathering.
The Cosmic Guards, in order to keep their neutrality and impartiality, had to be very cautious to never get caught into this tangle of complex and often perfidious karmic relations. So they intervened only in rare occasions, even not to eliminate suffering or injustices, but only when appeared a risk of a complete stall or ruin of a planetary civilisation. And, when they intervened, they did it, as much as possible, in a way to bring some balance into these interplanetary karmic issues, while offering to people of other planets an opportunity to act in a concrete way. So the joint Earth-Dumria intervention on Ouarkatan would benefit the Ouarkians, of course, but also the Earthlings, as, basically, the dictatorship was coming from their planet. This would be also beneficial to the Dumrians, whose large majority was much too tempted to ignore problematic worlds and to lock themselves into their little factitious paradise. peculiarly, the tall being pointed at what happened to the Dumrians with the «anti-suicide conspiracy», as a «kind reminder» not to flee the problems of others, to the risk of seeing, one day, these problems land in force on Dumria and ruin their beautiful civilisation in some days... A quick image appeared, of the «divine worlds» of Buddhism, deceiving paradises which inhabitants, much too concerned with their own self-importance, had sooner or later to experience the horrible suffering of descending back into ugliness, evil and filthiness… Imagine a magnificent and pure god, but too egoistic and self-concerned, finding himself suddenly forced to take birth into a pigsty...
«And what about the nuclear contamination on Ouarkatan, will the Cosmic Guards intervene?»
The reply burst boldly into the mind of everybody, even with some anger:
«The nuclear pollution on Ouarkatan is much worse than on Earth, and it could lead to a complete extinction of this mankind, in only some centuries. A decontamination intervention is possible on Ouarkatan, as only a very small number of scientistists knew the genetic hazards of radioactive contamination. So the huge majority of Ouarkians did not engaged their karma on this point. Even the army people who used atom bombs were totally ignoring their long term effects, so they only have a karma of genocide, not astrocide.
«However on Earth, the leaders who exploded atom bombs or built nuclear power plants knew the genetic effects of radioactive contamination since 1943, when the manhattan project renounced to radiological weapons in favour of the atom bomb. The peoples of the world were also informed in the 1970 years. As soon as this time, in all democratic countries the opportunity was open many times to elect candidates who refused the pollution, especially nuclear. The choices which were made, were made in full knowledge by a large majority, and therefore the karma of the Earthlings is now fully engaged. It will be very difficult to spare them the future of disease, ugliness and suffering that they themselves built. Only a more responsible minority is sure to escape, thanks to their good individual karma.
«So yes, we are planning a major decontamination operation in Ouarkatan, within a few decades. Many Earthlings will be invited, and it will be an opportunity for them to repair their own karma. But we do not intend to launch such a decontamination operation for Earth, either now or later. The Earthlings will have to solve this problem themselves, we are unable of helping them.»
A feeling of revolt and injustice seized some of the attendees, to the idea of seeing the Cosmic Guards helping the sinister Ouarkatan but not the democratic Earth. The reply dashed as a sting: A true justice has to protect the victims and amend the culprits. As to democracy, it cannot be used to elude responsibility: the decisions taken by vote personally engage all those who voted for, or who abstained.
So the Cosmic Guardians were as skilful with right punishment as with gentle compassion.
«Why the Cosmic Guardians are they hiding from planetary civilizations?» (As a matter of facts, there was no known mention of them, even in the numerous time capsules left by the missing planets just before their spiritual transition).
This question sent them back to the discussion of the morning, about the dangers of psychophysics. Until a certain level of spiritual mastery is reached, any attempt to use psychophysics can only lead to disaster, or even real descent into hell for those who would use it for evil purposes. But the very ability to use the psychophysical powers positively is coinciding with a state of evolution of the individual, or planets, which opens much more interesting opportunities that just continuing to adapt to the material world. Thus, the planets undergo the transition to an ideal spiritual paradise, instead of only trying to control a necessarily limited and imperfect material world. Only certain individuals ahead of their civilization can use these capabilities, sometimes producing «miracles» visible by all. But most of them discretely disappear from their home planet, into a psychical body, unless they just die naturally. A large-scale public use of these powers is possible only into the final stages of preparation for the spiritual transition, when all the inhabitants of the planet have cleansed their minds from their psychological defilements, and gathered enough awareness of these things to understand and accept them without attempting to use them for egocentric purposes. Only at this moment the transition is possible. But then it is almost automatic, inevitable, as a powerful orgasm of happiness, which would take the entire planet...
«How do you plan to avoid a cross contamination of bacteria between Ouarkatan and Dumria?» This was THE question, and murmurs greeted it.
A feeling of absolute confidence pervaded the whole attendance, while appeared an image of the totally disinfected multivators. They were not only thoroughly cleaned, but all the molecules carrying genetic information were completely destroyed, in both outward and inward journeys. Even the radioactivity they would necessarily catch on Ouarkatan would be totally removed. The Cosmic Guards were perfectly aware that a single bacteria transported on another planet would cause a global disaster, terror epidemic or insidious rot. So the dumrian bacteria had the capacity to rot on the spot all ouarkian life, while ouarkian bacteria could sterilize all the plants on Dumria, without harming the Dumrians themselves, just leaving them die with starvation in a world of dry hay. Never such a thing happened by the fault of the Cosmic Guardians, and anyway the colonization of an inhabited planet by another was something strictly forbidden. In theory, such a colonization is impossible, given the distances between the stars, but it sometimes happens that two inhabited planets exist into the same solar system, or in a double system, or that two solar systems pass close enough of each other to temporarily make trips possible. In these cases it happened that the Cosmic Guard acted to prevent destructive interference.
«What to do with the lokouten plans and prototypes which exist today?»
The reply was clear, and even authoritarian:
«We shall not allow the use of these machines on Earth, and even not on Dumria. No plans of lokouten shall remain on Earth. No information shall be disclosed. Any attempt to disclose information shall be stopped. The prototypes on Dumria shall be destroyed. Only an archive of plans will remain on Dumria, in a secret organization that you do not know, the Knights of Tokenviel, created fifteen years ago, after the first contacts with Earth, and which has relations with us. Maybe one day the Vilayah Centre will be part of this organization, but the Earthlings here will all be dead by then.
«The lokouten riders, whatever on Earth or on Dumria, shall not continue their experiments. But their interest is to continue the unfolding of their special faculties, under the supervision of masters such as Sangye Tchögyal, for their own good, and for the sake of all the other beings. Even if they work in total discretion, they shall easily find positive uses of these faculties, as the Earthling Eraert already does.»
Madame Eraert blushed with this compliment to her addressed, coming from such high beings. She however just cured some psychiatric patients, in often non-rewarding or scabrous conditions. But to the eyes of the guards, this looked infinitely more important than Rolf's technological feats.
There was nothing else to add on this topic.
«Are there civilizations based on the lokouten?»
It was rare, but it actually existed, civilizations which had developed cybernetic bodies, more or less combining biology and computers. There even were two types of them: physical lokouten, machines imitating a real body and allowing the consciousness to have experiences into the physical world, and computer-based semkouten allowing the consciousness to incarnate into virtual worlds simulated by a myriad of computers, themselves built and maintained by robots. These civilizations were certainly experiencing an intense happiness and a virtual immortality, but the Cosmic Guardians were considering this path as an error. At first, the evolution of these civilizations could remain blocked for millions of years, usually by the loss of a true free will. In second, they were missing a far more profound happiness in the psychical worlds. At last, death, which always ends to happen into the material universe, found them totally unable to face the Bardo state of consciousness, exposing them to the most hazardous rebirths. As to civilizations of purely robotic creatures, as technologically advanced as they could be, they are definitively not interesting, as the robots have no consciousness. The takeover of robots over a planet was indeed rare, but it always was a disaster, except in the case of «Asimovian» robots undertaking the task of protecting life without interfering with it.
Seemingly there was no other question.
But a diffuse feeling, hard to identify, floated over the assembly, like an elusive flute song afar.
This whole business was only a game.
The Cosmic Guardians could act quite differently. These beings with immense powers had absolutely no need of them, or their machines. And they certainly do not hesitate to intervene directly on occasion. But it was far more exciting to do it in this way, with these enormous Dumrians toys fitted with these incredible psychophysical brains defying the laws of the universe and of consciousness, strange creations of a mind of exception: Rolf Gensher, director of the International Shedrup Ling University, devoted to the study of consciousness. So it would be much more fun to do in the movie of Rolf.
Just a last remark came, sounding like the punch line of a funny story:
«Do not forget to ask to your friend Nips to attach Enken's remote control on one of the robots, otherwise arrived on Ouarkatan they would remain totally paralysed!» They felt bad to see their secret found so easily, but they knew that they would be pardoned, as for a child's prank...
Finally the light sphere reabsorbed itself. Definitely, this time. But there was no feeling of frustration: everyone was ready to fulfil his role, with a quiet but firm determination. Already the riders were getting up, some with a knowing smile, others with a concentrated look that no one would disturb, and they headed toward the sensory isolation caissons.
In the G major base, Nips and his friends got a message from Ekarpan with the last instructions. Especially not to worry about disinfection. Then Ekarpan asked Nips to attach the remote control to one of the robots.
«Oh la you became non-clever, or what? replied the later. There is a strong smell of cheating. If we lose the remote controller, we lose any control on the lokouten!
-Heed us, Nips, here we are perfectly confident. We all think that there are no risks to entrust our lokutens to these Cosmic Guards. Anyway, how do thou planest to remote control them on Ouarkatan, from here?
-Oh, well. I do like thou sayest. But I take MY precautions.
-Thou will see.» And Nips leaped into the vast hall, the remote control in his hand. He climbed the footbridge and entered into the head of one of the multivators. He should normally attach the remote control and climb back down. But instead, he installed into one of the seats, locked the safety harness, and attached the remote control with a sandwich holder on the little control panel in front of him. Then he closed the doors with maximum sealing, and configured the air conditioning into a closed circuit. Once this done, he did a victory sign to his friends into the bunker. They replied something, but they could not hear, as he did not brought his cellphone.
Scenario, graphics, sounds, colours, realization: Richard Trigaux (Unless indicated otherwise).
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