Friday, 22 February 2013
Book Spotlight: Panoptemitry by Sarah Baethge
by Sarah Baethge
With a goal as high and lofty as the unspecified pursuit of knowledge, there may not be a clear point at which to stop. Acting as one has been taught to can seem to hold just as much purpose as the actual reason for taking those actions. When the growth of technology begins to hold the same powers as religious doctrine has declared divine, does the simple recording of events become blasphemous? Who's to say we even understand that 'so-called' divinity?
On a research mission to provide information for a great galactic computer network (called S.Y.M.A.C.), Emilija Lithuan and her assistants run up against the higher ranks of the Caytalan Church. The punishment that these religious leaders try to stick them with, could possibly have a greater effect than was ever intended.
When their escape saddles them with a famous outlaw, a careful reassessment of what is right and wrong can't be avoided. How much of what is 'common knowledge' is even actually true?
And if it's not, just how much preceived reality is built upon a lie? Read an excerpt after the jump: Excerpt From Chapter 3 Max was attempting not to attract anyone’s notice. Usually his lack of height and weight was a help in that regard, but he didn’t quite count on that being the case here.
As there were no children that he knew of on this large Caytal-priest transport ship, his height, if noticed, would make him instantly stand out. This idea would almost make him angry if that same lack of size hadn’t allowed him to hide and avoid his crewmates’ capture.
It was now up to him to get the three members of their party out of here.
Their ship now remained virtually unguarded, telling him that both Lithuan and Mead had seen the advantage of not alerting the Caytal-men of his presence.
If Max could find a way to get the other two back to the spaceship they may still safely get away from this situation.
Abandoning the others for himself? Max couldn’t seriously consider thatpossibility. S.Y.M.A.C. had taken steps to prevent any such rebellion in their androids.
If he spent 72 hours without coming into live physical contact with his current assigned controller (right now, both Ryan Mead and Emilija Lithuan) , obedience monitor cells within his skin would create and release a serum (completely non-toxic to humans) that would kill him within minutes.
Knowledge of this consequence was supposed to prevent the android from ever running away or attacking its controllers.
Having procured three uniforms of the Caytalan-transport crew, he had quickly donned one himself; Max imagined he could remain out of sight as long as no one was directly looking at him to notice the lack of height or how baggy the uniform was.
The only thing left to do was to now determine the exact location of those others whom his survival was dependent upon.
Getting onto a computer console might be the way to go. After a few seconds of unsuccessfully searching his S.Y.M.A.C. radar for the local computers, Max began to realize how unlikely it might be that followers of Caytal would link their consoles to its galactic network.
Max generally relied on his nearly continuous internal connections with S.Y.M.A.C. for when computer work needed to be done, but as the local machines weren’t linked with that network, it was looking more and more like he might actually have to rely on his very handsand eyesto access simple data.
Although, before he could decide which physical machine to try, two loudly talking people started walking by the office he was in, and had him ducking below a desk before he could be noticed. Seeing that one of them was Syelnar Piler (the Caytalan religious leader) made Max know that being found right now may just about assure his execution.
“…What do you mean ‘he’s still conscious?’” Syelnar asked the man he was with; “Did you give him the wrong sprites, Jungnar? The strongest ones should have flattened him.”
“I know that,” Jungnar answered. "The man just seems to have some sort of affinity. We expected that the special sprites would quickly overpower him when they started to multiply and then the new ones could be slowly transferred to me so I’d be ready for the release of yours.
“There’s just something different about this Mead fellow.” The younger man continued, “For whatever reason, his body produces no Epinephrine, the chemical that normally reacts badly to mass production of the higher level sprites.”
“That’s why I ask if you’re sure it was the higher sprites he was treated with.” Syelnar said with concern. “We already have a planet-full of undesirables whose bodies are fodder for the much needed lower level sprites. Are you sure you didn’t just mistakenly grab a jar-full of those?”
“Yes I’m sure, and I thank you for intending to grow mine like this,” Jungnar said with a slight shudder; “The man, when I left was sick as a dog from their multiplication yet he’s already recovering, so I don’t think he will die. It wasn’t anything like the unseen, unfelt, springing forth of their lower forms…”
The conversation went on from here as the two men continued towards wherever they intended to go, but Max was thrilled to hear what he had. Apparently Ryan was still alive and there had been no talk of finding another way to kill him!
Once he was able to locate Emilija, he just needed to swing by and pick up Ryan as they made their getaway; with any luck, the pilot could soon make his full recovery on their ship as they put some distance between The Caliberand these Caytal freaks.
So Ryan ought to live! But why hadn’t the two of them mentioned Emilija? Max decided to remain hopeful because they hadn’t spoken of her death. Knowing that he needed her alive just as much as the pilot, he felt a nervous at not knowing her whereabouts.
All of the priests and temple workers of Caytal were male, but the android was almost sure that didn’t come about through an actual hatred of women. If he remembered correctly, too high a concentration of estrogen was supposedly lethal to Caytalan sprites (at least that was the Church’s stance, they just wouldn’t let S.Y.M.A.C. confirm it by allowing intensive study of the sprites). Whatever you believed, it tended to eliminate the allowance of a female presence within the priesthood.
As they hadn’t mentioned Emilija at all, that probably meant they had already dealt with her somehow so that she no longer posed a threat. Max had to admit, that from what he had seen himself and what information he had access to through S.Y.M.A.C. there was a hole, a general empty space or lack of knowledge when it came to the information about Caytalan customs or ways,.
Caytal was by the church members revered in much the same way as a god by its followers, making the organization to exist as something of a religion. Their teachings were organized into a whole good/evil belief system. Right now Max felt pretty safe in believing that a group of religious men would be bothered by the killing of an innocent researcher merely because she may have trespassed into a library.
Especially if she had been in the company of Ryan Mead, a man whom they had declared evil when they found him by saying he had purposely misled her as his servant in some sort of narcissistic quest for about the gathering of secret knowledge which they were now intent upon punishing him for.
Not having much else to seriously hope for at this point, there was little gain in thinking that his crewmates might be out of reach.
Considering his lack of knowledge on the culture, Max decided there would have to be better luck in trying to follow the man he recognized.
He’d just have to hope for more discussion of events or the sight of physical report materials. Playing with this un-translated computer system that he wasn’t familiar with had a very good chance of activating some sort of ship-wide alarm.
So Max wasn’t paying full attention yet when the fight started, he just heard Jungnar angrily yelling just beyond the corner ahead. It stopped the android, for he didn’t trust his clumsy camouflage to stand up to any sort of close scrutiny.
“Why can’t I go? If anyone deserves the chance to repay him for what he did, it’s me.”Jungnar steadfastly believed in what he was trying to argue; “You might have lost friends through his actions too, but his intention was to kill me. That makes it somewhat personal.”
“That’s exactly why it can’t be you,” Syelnar calmly replied. “This isn’t an action of revenge, too much anger or fear on your part will merely draw Dauer’s sprites to you when they are released from him. The whole purpose of the ritual is to release them into the universe so they can increase the Caytalan bond with those weaker than you in preparation for my death.
“When his end comes,” Syelnar explained, trying to calm Jungnar. “We don’t want your aura to collect all of the power release from Dauer’s dying body in a way that prevents the gathering of new sprites by all of the other nearby priests too easily. It’s just that if your presence is felt too strongly, their spiritual auras will be suppressed, and unable to benefit when we need them as strong as possible. If you are unconscious, the new sprites won’t make your aura flare so highly.”
“But won’t my closeness within this transport just attract all of these newly released ones anyway?” Jungnar asked grumpily.
“Not if we time it right.”Syelnar tried to explain; “If by using this Ryan Mead, we are able to flood your systems with a large number of the higher level sprites before the release of the lower ones, the strengthening release will come at a time when your body is momentarily resistant to the lower ones as it struggles to accept its new level.”
Max was getting annoyed; it wasn’t often that he didn’t have a clear understanding of someone else’s conversation. It was almost enough to have him head back the other way, until Jungnar suddenly brought up exactly what he was hoping to hear.
“So, what about that female? Are you planning to bring her back after the prosperity ritual?”
“That Emiliaor whatever who was with Mead?” Syelnar asked in a bored tone, as if it were just a frivolous or unimportant matter; “by the time I come back, as long as you simply stay away from her, the strength of the sprites within you shouldn’t be affected by her presence. Just make sure that you can speak with Caytal as an actual person before you come into contact with her…”
Max truly wasn’t interested in hearing descriptions on the strength of conversations with imaginary‘spirits’, but their conversation had seemed to indicate that Emilija was on the nearby prison planet where Syelnar planned to perform some ‘ritual.’
Now, if he could gather up Ryan and sneak him to the ship; Max may be able to get down to the planet and locate Emilija in time. Wherever exactly Syelnar was headed, it had to be near enough to get Emilija if travel time to her location wasn’t even a concern.
67.324 hours left, Max told himself. I can do this.
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