476 Far Future Ch. 186 – Voids and Vortexes
"Arranged marriages?! Mother, this is the far future and grimdark, where they treat people like shit and... oh!" Jonah's grin got lopsided.
I beamed. "Glad you understand that you're going to be spending a lot of time with some very athletic women who can't get enough of you."
All three of them coughed and looked elsewhere. "Hadn't crossed our minds at all, Sama."
"You're just so pure-hearted and kind, I know, I know." They all beamed together, and I swear the light gleamed off their teeth.
Sister Eloise sat down across the table from me, and Jonah sat to the side, his Source Aura covering all of us. Sisters Elanis and Emerta were at another table, conversing with the garrulous Elijah and Noah, who were acting like big hams for the two of them. The Silent Sisters were trying really, really hard not to smile at their antics...
Sister Eloise had a lot of lines carved into her face, and looked older than her years. As a Ten with at least a hundred extra years, and the Empire having age-rejuvenation alchemicals available, that was saying something.
Still, she looked to be a lot more relaxed than she was normally, and couldn't help glancing at the Ancient sprawled in an over-sized chair nearby.
"You have a purpose for bringing us here, Marquise," she said, but her voice didn't have the sting to it that it might. "Tell me what it is."
"I am aware that Vortices, and Voids, are dangerously intelligent people. What I do not know is what you have been told, versus what you have seen and can deduce yourselves," I answered promptly. "Thus, what I wanted to tell you was best shown first, allowing you to make your own assessments, and then contrast them with what you have been told, and what I am going to tell you."
She nodded slowly. "Fair enough, as long as it involves no blasphemy, or treachery against the Empire."
"It very well might, from the perspective of those who give you orders." Her eyes flashed once. "First of all, you are not an anti-psion, or a psion-killer, or whatever you have been told you are, juxtaposing you as the opposite of the mentalists who run the Empire. You are a Vortex, a naturally if rarely occurring member of the Forsaken... who are simply everyone else who is not a Psion, but has their psionic potential Awakened."
I help up my hand before she could say anything. "Every living thing has life energy. Every thinking creature has emotions. Every sentient creature has thoughts. These three things make up the full sum and total of psionic energy. You do not need to be a psion to have psionic energy, as any necroleech draining hapless civilians of their lives and mental energy can confirm for you."
She paused, and then slowly nodded. "That... is true, from that perspective."
"The vast majority of people have little psionic potential. Those who have active psionic potential, the psions of all calibers, have something else... they have flexible souls." I kept her eyes. "Surely you have felt the difference in how they feel from the vast majority of others. Elusive, vibrant, shifting, moving, fluid, energetic... in contrast to normal people, who are like dim light bulbs; Sources like Jonah, who are steadily burning fires," she had to give him another glance, "and Nulls, who are like rocks." Her unseen vortex swirled up to and past me, and could get nothing off me. "Vortexes are like holes, and Voids... are like filters. Vortexes and Voids are two sides of the same coin, separated only by gender."
She frowned. "We have been told that freeborn Sisters and Brothers are great dangers to themselves and others."
I tapped the table as I looked up. "Hmm. Well, were a freeborn Vortex born, I believe they would generally die within ten years, without any training, nor the filters of your armor. In that, I could see how they would be a danger.
"Void Brothers, however, do not have the issue that you do. They go insane if they are not permitted to do as they are compelled... so I imagine the Voids you know of also go inevitably mad as their conditioning wars with their primal drives."
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She blinked at me. "You know of freeborn Voids?" Her interest was like a razor.
"Three," I admitted. "On the other side of the Rift." Her nostrils flared. "They are the greatest natural xenos hunters we have ever seen, and so cold stone sober it is scary.
"Their natural drives are exactly like your own, removing threats that are out there. However, I imagine yours are focused on negative energies, psionic taint, and Warp contamination. Void Brothers... sense it all."
"All?" she asked hesitantly.
"Time travelers. Things from outside dimensional space. Defilement of nature. Corruption of the ecosystem. Imbalance in hierarchies. Exploitations of faith. Abuse of the spirits of the dead. Disruptions of the cycle of nature. Extradimensional intrusions. Aberrant infiltrations of the Akasha. Degradation of the human spirit.
"Freeborn Voids obey no master but the Land... and so they are dangerous to those in power. Their sensitivity to those making deals with aliens, Aberrants, the warp, and psychic entities, as well as those betraying humanity or the Land for their own gain, means they kill those in power as ruthlessly as they do lowborn scum seeking to better themselves with the same kind of deals.
"And those in power naturally do not like that a whit. Thus, freeborn Voids are a huge danger... to people like them.
"To you or I? We're just tools to be used, to get done what they are compelled to do... which in the end isn't much different from what you do.
"If you enslave a Void and compel him by whatever means to unnatural purposes, such as serving a human hierarchy and killing at the whim of other humans, they will go mad and die. It is unstoppable.
"If they wear a suit like yours, it is only to stop them from hearing the will of the Land. I imagine if they do take it off and hear that voice, they are promptly compelled in outrage to kill those who took them from their purpose, which makes them a huge threat to those in power and using them as their personal throatslitters.
"The shelf life of madness also means they won't remain a threat for long, unlike freeborn Voids, who can easily live for centuries, if they don't die in their duties... which most of them naturally do, given what they face."
She was staring at me and my guileless face. "This... contrasts with everything we have been told," she warned me.
"I imagine the 100% recidivism if Voids remove their suits and are enlightened as to what they truly are doesn't help matters."
"They... all go mad..." she agreed uncomfortably.
"No, they all go cold sane when they realize they were enslaved," I disagreed. "Imagine if you were to learn that if you removed your armor, you would not be in danger of dying, nor going mad. Tell me, how would you feel?"
She stared at me for a long moment. "I would feel betrayed," she admitted. "Horribly betrayed..."
"You have been leashed as an attack dog, and your instincts made to serve the Empire," I told her unflinchingly. "Since your instincts rarely, if ever, compel you to thwart the will of your masters, and your lifespan is short regardless, you are ideal for the task. Your sterility and inability to have children only mean that you have no greater loyalty than to your existing sisters, as opposed to children or a mate of your own, which would contest your loyalties."
Her eyes were blazing, and she was about to say something when I went on, "There are no Freeborn Vortices for those reasons."
She blinked, her defiance forgotten. "What?" she had to ask.
"You are the male counterparts to Voids, and Voids serve the Land. What is the ultimate purpose of a woman?" I asked her directly.
"It is to have and bear children, and perpetuate the bloodline. That is it. That is what women are born to do.
"The Land will not go against natural purpose. It never Awakens Vortices, for that very reason. Doing so makes you unable to pass on your bloodline. Everything you do, can be done by the Voids. There is no need for a Vortex to betray herself, and so the Land never Awakens them."
"But... that would mean..."
"That you have been artificially Awakened by some weird science or Ritual to become what you are. There are no Freeborn Vortexes. It is entirely likely that the majority of you are artificially conceived and designed, as you cannot pass down your bloodline."
Her face was white as she stared at me. Again, she wanted to speak up, but I interrupted again.
"I know how smart your kind are." I looked directly into her eyes. "Your superiors probably know you are smart, but they don't really understand it, and in any event, they are manipulating you from birth, and so think they are smarter than you are... certainly older, wiser, more experienced. They merely direct your intelligence upon the road your Vortex compels you to follow, and think they are safe.
"But you see, you learn, you know. What you are told, and what you can see do not match up. You can deduce and reason and see beyond the words, to the motives behind them; do not try to make me think you can't.
"You are an artificially made sect of slave soldiers pitted against those who threaten the powers that be. Despite being anti-psionic and a threat to them, you are, in the end, not a threat because you have a short shelf life. If your whole Order was to revolt, they need merely wait thirty or forty years until you all go mad and die, and then they can begin again with newer minds who know nothing of you all."
She flushed, and her eyes flashed. I waited patiently as she went through various true-false scenarios, and calculated the veracity of what I was saying.
Separating words from experience, matching up feeling versus what she had been told...
Since everything I told her had been absolute truth, I wasn't worried about the details adding up.
I saw the chinks in her armor cracking. "Is... there any hope for us?" she asked, and just the slightest wash of despair beneath her resolve.
She stared at me. I stared back, and waited. She took several deep breaths, feeling the offer coming, but unable to back away from it, loyalty to the Emperor or no. This was about staying sane, serving the Emperor longer, despite the viewpoints of her superiors. How could she turn this down?
"What, Marquise?" she had to ask.
I flicked up my mindclaw. Jonah, sitting there silently, unfolded his arms and casually brought out his own mindclaw.
Mine was golden, his was electrum.
"You are psionic, and you are magical. Voids are the strongest and most powerful of all the Forsaken in that regard, for you feel the magic and the psionic power far more clearly and beautifully than all of us.
"Erect a Matrix of psionic and magical power around your soul, and you will not go mad."