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Eucharist for a Sinless Mankind

by Bertil Falk

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Chapter 3: The Building Stones of Sinlessness

part 1 of 3

O tempora, o mores! Nobody has ever given expression to the occasional significance of the Zeitgeist as well as Cicero did in this refrain. Already in those days, there were local times and regional customs in the then-known world. But they were far from the considerable proportions of the universe, where Xavier Pascal lived and worked like a comet in space and where subjective time — even in an objective way — existed side by side with the aforementioned relative times.

Neither Tamara Crossfire nor Xavier Pascal had the slightest suspicion that they had not only been moved into another universe but that they had also been transported across a number of time eras. And to such a degree that they were de jure — as legislated by Nature — contemporary with the dinosaurs on Earth.

They would never realize it, either. This time dislocation was a phenomenon well-known to physicists. But it was not until much later that the relationship between dinosaurs and kidnapped convents was explained by an amateur mathematician, who had a good time putting all the recorded multidimensional coordinates of different events into a privately structured tesseract system. As for the individuals involved — Tyrannosaurus Rex, Tamara Crossfire and Xavier Pascal — it did not really matter, but it is at least worth mentioning.

There they stood, facing each other like two mental belt-linked wrestlers with their imaginary daggers ready to thrust into the body of the adversary. Neither of them was ready to yield. Yet, Xavier Pascal felt that he was at a disadvantage. He could hardly expect any assistance from Sigourney Nagy, since she was not present. He regretted that he had let her wait inside the craft.

The situation was critical. He could not once more transport the convent cum monastery against the will of the Abbess. It would amount to a double kidnapping. And yet would Teresia Nightmare accept it if he returned empty-handed? He lowered his guard and smiled a forced smile.

“Let us talk it over again,” he said.

“There’s nothing to add,” the Abbess said. “The facts are stated. Your sinful behavior has opened the prospect of saving the non-substantial, intelligent forms of life in this universe. It is like the game of dice in Guys and Dolls, which led the dregs of society to a meeting with the Salvation Army on Damon Runyan’s Broadway many thousands of years ago.

“Now, return to our dimension and don’t forget the co-ordinates. I’ll send with you one of our sisters of the Order of Ursula, Sister Beatrice, who has been commissioned to report to Mother Saulcerite what has happened and my decision.”

Now a light dawned on Xavier Pascal. “Of course!” he exclaimed and took a step backwards. “You don’t know it!”

“What is it I don’t know?”

“The Cardinal has disappeared, together with a Celibateur. I have more or less been charged with kidnapping her as well.”

When he saw Mother Crossfire’s laser warts begin to rotate counter-clockwise accusatorily, he quickly added, “Which I didn’t do. I’ve not even met Mother Saulcerite — ever!”

A thought crossed his mind. “How do you know that there are sinning mankinds here? May I ask where these beings are?”

The Abbess stopped rotating her laser warts counter-clockwise. The rays were put in order and the warts settled down. “They are everywhere, and our sin-indicators literally screamed when we switched them on upon our arrival.”

“Have you had contact with any of these... um... sinners?” he wondered.

Mother Tamara tossed what supposedly was her head. “We have not yet been able to pinpoint any individual being. But we know for sure that they are more or less everywhere around us. The indicator is a very reliable gauge when it comes to measuring sins.”

Dressed in a gray slip, a black gown with leather belt, a black cloak and a black veil, an Earthly nun of the Order of Ursula entered the room. “Mother Tamara asked for me,” the Ursulan nun said.

“Yes, I did, Sister Angela Madeleine. This is Captain Xavier Pascal, who kidnapped us. You shall follow him back to our universe and there you will report to the Salvation Bureau.”

The Abbess looked strange when she realised what she had said, and it dawned on Xavier Pascal that she was frightened at her own boldness. Not surprisingly, she added, “But if you meet with Mother Saulcerite, you must not use the wording ‘Salvation Bureau’. You must say ‘The Bureau for the Assurance of the Salvation of Newly Discovered Mankinds’. Otherwise you may upset the Cardinal.”

“The risk that Sister Angela Madeleine will meet the Cardinal is not imminent,” interjected Xavier Pascal. “As I mentioned, she has disappeared.”

“Nonetheless...” the Abbess said, but she never completed the sentence. It was obvious that she considered the meeting over.

* * *

Hundreds of thousands of smaller wars were always on between different parts of the Federation. Furthermore, there were always wars between parts of the Federation and planetary systems outside the Federation, not to mention all the wars between independent solar systems outside the borders of the Federation.

The Federation was not at all like a three dimensional wall-to-wall carpet; rather it consisted of a large number of star systems. Even though there were many independent lacunæ within the federal systems, there were also tiny principalities, smaller democracies, technocracies, matriarchies, patriarchates, neuterates, non-neuterates and dictatorships.

The purpose of The Department of the Incorporation of New Worlds was to bring qualified space nations into the Federation through voluntary membership applications and to coax refractory planet states until they hopefully found it essential to apply for membership or at least for association.

Violence was strictly prohibited according to the constitution of the Federation. Only as a last resort could violence be used, but even then not to add new societies to the domain of the Federation. It was supposed to be very important that any nations be incorporated voluntarily. Upon application for membership, the applicants more or less accepted the rules prevailing within the Federation. Then the applications led to long drawn-out negotiations before the applicants became members.

Accepting the common currency could be a bitter pill in markets with an extraordinarily well-developed economy combined with a complicated barter system, especially if it had been in existence for thousands of years and used sophisticated instruments like specially adapted derivatives and similar clever devices.

Accepting a monetary system without abandoning achievements reached within an advanced barter system was not an insoluble problem, but it required that many a ‘brow’ (the expression derived from mankinds possessing foreheads and brows) be furrowed and many heads (to the extent that the mankinds were supplied with heads) be put together.

In a similar way, totally regulated socialist societies of the capitalistic monopoly kind had problems accepting freedom of speech and a free market, which was the very basis of the federal system.

Abolishing the death penalty was another hard nut to crack for many applicant star systems, where social revenge or vendettas were more or less considered a religious ritual. Even if there was a common denominator that all members had to stick to, it was important for the Federation that every part incorporated into it preserve its distinctive features as far as possible and thereby contribute new experiences and knowledge to the whole.

The method of moving with lightning rapidity from one spot in existence to another spot in another existence via multidimensional tesseracts was exactly the kind of contribution to the whole that was contributed by a small planet in a small star system in the constellation of Cancer. However, the Bureau of Salvation was the only institution that had understood the relevance of the invention. Soon enough, the usefulness of the method was discovered and spread across the Federation.

All this, and much more, made the task of the close collaborators of Teresia Nightmare a very delicate one. When a war broke out between different systems within the federation, Teresia Nightmare did not have to interfere. Such conflicts fell under the jurisdiction of the Department for Intrafederal Conflicts.

And it did not concern her if two extrafederal solar systems fought each other. In those cases the Department for Extrafederal Conflicts tried to mediate. But when a mankind belonging to the Federation landed up in a war with an extrafederal structure, then it was the tradition that The Department of the Incorporation of New Worlds should solve the problem.

That was illogical, for several reasons; but it was something that had developed over time. The reason was simply that in the distant past, one extraplanetary principality on the verge of being incorporated had been attacked by a non-federal planetary dictatorship.

Since The Department of the Incorporation of New Worlds was already involved in every respect in the prospective member’s situation, the Department was forced to handle the matter. It gave military assistance and tried by means of parley and negotiation to get along with the attacking party. Of course the dictatorship had not the ghost of a chance against the Federation, and when it became obvious that the end was at hand, the dictator was overthrown and the attacking party became a member of the federal union as well.

The emergence of Carolus Brainflower was unexpected, but his errand came as no surprise. He had accepted her statement and approved of her decision to send Xavier Pascal back to the scene of the crime to retrieve the missionaries. Of course, Teresia Nightmare was dissatisfied with her lover’s behavior. She was uneasy about the disappearance of her old friend Cardinal Saulcerite, but the real problem was that a whole extrafederal galaxy had suddenly attacked a part of the Federation that was a number of parsecs away in the federal outskirts.

The conflict was of such a magnitude that Teresia Nightmare had to requisition the Federal space patrol and privately owned commando units in a patchwork co-operation with the Federal army. As a result, shares in commando stocks boomed and created a bull market unheard of in the past one hundred and thirteen years.

Teresia Nightmare also teleported to the theatre of operations to take in the situation and consult Field Marshals Bodil Robinson and Lars Hernia, each of whom commanded one galactic flank. And she consulted Lucia Method, Supreme Commander of the commando units, and Evita Pavement, chief of the Space Patrol.

Teresia Nightmare arrived in a fireworks display of exploding planets when the enemy let loose a barrage of specially manufactured comets, which rained upon the edge of the Federation with devastating results.

To mention individual suffering in this evil kitchen midden was impossible. Planets hit by the effectively designed and deadly projectiles evaporated within fractions of nanoseconds. There was simply no time for suffering. The incoming evil knew its business: destroy and occupy as fast as possible. Planets that would be difficult to incorporate into existing structures were obliterated in one single sweep before anyone was able to think or feel pain.

“We must stop this quickly. If the worst comes to the worst, we shall be forced to invade the enemy system.”

Field Marshal Bodil Robinson raised her eyebrows. “Against statutes,” she said abruptly. Her big, blue eyes shone innocently in the duskily illuminated room, where they stood leaning over the four-dimensional model of the combat arena.

But Teresia knew quite well that Bodil was no innocent. Known as a female chauvinist pig with whole regiments of lovers, the beautiful Field Marshal with her short, rainbow-colored hair was the very model of a power-wielding femme fatale of the same caliber as Catherine the Great, once upon a time.

“I am prepared to make an exception to the rules,” said Teresia Nightmare.

“I think that that requires a decision in the Diet of the Galaxy Federation,” said Supreme Commander Lucia Method and turned her pitch-black eyes at Teresia Nightmare, who, irritated, rubbed her red hair the wrong way until it overflowed her shoulders.

“By no means. The paragraphs I will refer to give me extraordinary powers. I hope I can avoid using them,” she said. “But I think that this doesn’t look good. Can anyone explain the situation?”

Lars Hernia leaned over the model of the war. His melodic voice made a queer impression in the tense atmosphere. Its stillness was not in harmony with the bloodbath that was taking place before their very eyes.

“For tactical reasons we sacrificed a number of solar systems,” he said. “On my flank we have enticed one-fourth of their forces into a temporal blind alley, where they can’t budge. Right now, they are revolving in a vicious circle beginning in the year 1943 and bending via the year 3058 back to 1943, and so on forever or until it suits us to switch off the temporal circle.” He pointed to a sector where they could see that the enemy was caught in a circular time bubble.

“Why can’t we do that everywhere?” Teresia Nightmare wondered.

“Because you can’t catch the enemy in a time loop unless they are gathered at a certain spot in space. On the other flank, their troops are spread out, as you can see here, and it falls on us of the Patrol to engage their platoons one at a time using less drastic means.”

“I ...”

A cascade of howling radioactive Roentgen-rays interrupted Teresia as the four-dimensional model imploded in a painful convulsion. The next moment the control room was holed and filled with blood.

Teresia Nightmare, who was connected to an automatic teleport device, disappeared out of sight. Without any measurable time shifting she reappeared outside the military arena. What she saw caused her to froth. With a single blow the enemy had totally destroyed both flanks of the Federation.

Without being invited, a blonde lady appeared, and her shape walked across the canopy of heaven. Crawling behind her like a faithful dog was a man, who snuffled and kissed the Milky Way on which the woman walked. His extended body covered the whole vault.

“Impossible,” Teresia Nightmare screamed and turned red with anger at the same time that Bodil Robinson, Lars Hernia, Lucia Method and Evita Pavement emerged by her side with plopping noises.

“Occupation!” Teresia Nightmare shouted. “I refer to the seventy-fourth paragraph of exception of the five hundred and twelfth chapter of the Federal Constitution, which gives the secretary of the Department of the Incorporation of New Worlds executive right and authority to order invasion and occupation of enemy territory.”

At that moment the woman and her companion disappeared into a constellation far, far away.

The four commanders stared at Teresia Nightmare, Bodil Robinson with hesitation in her eyes. Lars Hernia looked surprised. Lucia Method nodded in assent, and Evita Pavement was resolution itself.

Thus, for the first time in five hundred years, the Federation launched an invasion. In the following centuries, the war would rage in that fifty-three millionth part of the Federation that faced the territory of the assailants. It was to begin with a war where planets were captured and recaptured without any of the parties being able to inflict a decisive defeat upon the enemy.

The historians compared the war with the one that raged on Earth between 1914 and 1918, when the contending parties likewise dug themselves into trenches without getting anywhere, apart from a corridor of barbed wire about one hundred meters wide constantly changing hands.

When the war on the outskirts of the Federation gradually fizzled out and the enemy in sheer resignation let itself be sucked into the Federation, Teresia Nightmare and all the others involved were long since dead. Except the Trappist, who, after retiring from the post of permanent secretary of the Holy See, returned to La Trappe, where he (it?) spent his time attentively digging his own grave.

But we shall not anticipate events.

Teresia Nightmare gave no thought to kidnapped or disappeared cardinals and convents as she returned to the artificial Departmental planet just around the corner from Proxima Centauri. She felt the meeting with Xavier Pascal and the bad news he brought was a relief.

“Thank goodness,” she said and she kindly patted his cheek. “A little bit of luck won’t hurt. We were lucky with your kidnapped stuff.”

To be continued...

Copyright © 2008 by Bertil Falk

Open Challenge 289...

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