Monday, May 21, 2018

The Oppression Engine

Ancient Amino Foes
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Life cannot exist without disparity, without dynamics. Energy must flow from one state to another, or all is stagnant, all is void. Burning suns and raging photons weren't the first sources of energy, neither was heat, nor pressure nor gravity nor electromagnetism. Before Natural Law was written, before gods made the order of things, there were Oppression Engines. Their source of energy was Fear.

Oppression Engines generate a disparity in Fear by creating a metaphysical gradient across the Plane of Power. They then harvest its return, using it to synthesize soluble Oppression.

The steps of this process are gradual and invisible. They are taken for granted.

The bio-mechanical components of the Oppression Engine exist straddled across a metaphysical membrane of reality, but have half-anchored pieces in the physical world. Some of the metaphysical complex is in the minds and souls of the powerful and the truly free, some of it in the the rest.

People who adventure always belong to the former category.

There are no limits of distance to its mechanisms, though they are most pronounced in proximity to its physical components.

What appears as one megaplex of bio-machinery is actually five distinct units, each with its own highly sophisticated function. Each subunit can be physically separated from the others. Each works independently.

Moving individual Complexes isn't easy, given that each structure is roughly the size and weight of a bus. Dragging such weight and bulk deep underground is a challenging task.

Still, it has been done.

Complex I - Hope's End

  • Takes Hope, converts it into Despair
  • Uses this energy to generate Pain.
  • Moves Fear from the Powerful to the Vulnerable

It is a still juggernaut - a bumpy conglomeration of porous ancient plastics and wheezing vents. Its macro structure is reminiscent of a mud-crusted boot. It gnaws Hope right off the soul, leaving only Despair. Its proximity causes Pain - not physical pain, but deep, emotional anguish. The pain of defeat.

Complex I may be found buried under the Highest Mountain, where The Brave come to test their mettle and die. Their still-frozen bodies will forever be little monuments to their failure.

There is a giant whose name was long forgotten, buried deep in the cold stone. A tortured titan, whose eon-screams have faded from his mind and flesh. He is chained, crucified, deep in the mountain, among a mass grave of birds.

The chains rusted away an age ago. He knows nothing but his cave. Complex I lays at his feet.

Complex II - The Strange Complex

  • Takes Passion, converts it into Indifference.
  • Uses this energy to generate Pain.

So called, for it does not directly contribute to the ordering of Fear like the others. It is a mighty wall, with sheets upon sheets of chrome nano-fiber mesh, utterly impenetrable. Its chitinous metal-flesh turns away even the blows of the heavenly host. Those in its presence are drained of their Passion. Its proximity causes the Pain of ennui.

There once was a city whose walls were made of Complex II. It was a City of Uncaring, of Negligence. It had no army, no police. It had no crime and no love. Babes starved in their cribs, unwilling to even cry out. Its beggars and citizens alike piled in rotting masses in the streets. Its king was the King of Nothing, who did, and was, nothing.

A heavenly army destroyed the city for its great blasphemies. Trumpets not heard since the dawn of the universe shattered three walls and razed them to the ground. The fourth wall toppled, but remained intact. The city was purged. In time, another city was built atop the ruins. That city fell, too. Another yet was built. It fell. The ruins of five forgotten cities, stacked atop each other like pancakes.

A metropolis now exists atop the site, though few have dared to venture into the ruins below. Why should they care? Why should it matter? The people of the city have things to do.

Complex III - Cruel Mercy

  • Consumes Pain.
  • Takes Doom, converts it into Destiny
  • Moves Fear from the Powerful to the Vulnerable
It has a porcelain smoothness to its texture. The entire complex seems it were made of fine ceramics and glass. In its form, some see a distracted beautiful woman. Some see a disinterested crone. Some see both. Those near death see The End.

Duality is its nature. It takes away Pain and grants Destiny to those able, while shedding Fear onto the powerless. Forever is it known as The Merciful Complex, The Heroic Complex, for those it eschews never have their stories told.

A rich and mighty king once had Complex III exhumed from the veins of the earth. It came to be greatest conquest - better than his children, or his many beautiful wives, or his vast holdings of riches and territory. He guarded Cruel Mercy jealously, never letting any but himself gaze upon its beauty.

He commissioned an architect to build a vault for it - a vault so crafty that no thief would ever breach it, no giant would ever break it, no god would ever find it.

The architect succeeded, and the king never found the vault again.

He had the architect decapitated, his head put on a salted silver platter. The architect's dying words, while bleeding out on that platter, were nonsense and unimportant by all accounts. The accounts were wrong. He cursed the King, but while doing so gave hint at the vault's location.

"In the souls of the artists, the musicians, the thespians, the architects, rests the Cruel Mercy. It is on somber canvas, in tragedies, amidst the quiet places, along the low notes."

The king, wise but not clever, never found it. His legacy makes no mention.

One might catch a glimpse of the vault of Complex III while making tragic or sorrowful art. Its beating heart can be felt behind the still-wet canvas, or under the stage where pigs' blood drips. It's bound in the note-colors of dirges, or under stones in quiet, contemplative places.

But only to artists.

Complex IV - Heaven's Gate

  • Takes Destiny, converts it into Doom
  • Moves Fear from the Powerful to the Vulnerable 
A radiant beast bearing the seals and brands of six heavens, resembling an open-mouthed whale. It moves as leviathan through the mist, bounding and flowing across ether waves upon ventral sails of solar colors.

Heaven wasn't made in a Day. It was made in seven, after six failures - six monuments to the failures of the divine, commanded by all to have been forgotten. They are particular hells, containing righteous First Men forever tormented by ill-conceived afterlifes.

In the first, the righteous were placed next to the throne of God. This annihilated them instantly, like flash paper placed next to the Sun, and so the throne was abandoned.

In the second, the righteous were granted every wish they ever desired. It became a place of a billion universe-prisons, filled with numberless figment-peoples eternally tortured by the bored whims of the faithful, who in time were all corrupted by their power.

In the third, the righteous souls were teleported to a sky realm, where they sat on clouds, played music all day on celestial instruments, and watched the earth below. This was all they could do... forever. It drove them all mad. It is a violent madhouse now.

In the fourth, there was no pain. People couldn't handle it. The mind and soul, unused to this reality, frantically tried to invent new pains to compensate for this invalidating homogenization. There, new kinds of pain were subconsciously invented. It horrified the divine so greatly that it this heaven was forever quarantined.

In the fifth, there was no notion of time. People were not, they could not. They had no notion of events. They could merely be, and that was all. They exist quantum-locked, forever, in a plane of statues, monuments, trophies. A place where things merely are.

In the sixth, devotion was mandated. They would exist, those people, forever in the service of the gods, reveling in their glory. To ensure this, they had to be broken. Pieces had to be removed. The denizens of this place are devout and holy, but they are not people. They are merely worshiping objects, counter-idols. The longest lasting of the Heavens.

On a plane between these six heavens and the seventh rests Heaven's Gate. It watches over the realms, content in its being, smiting those Heroes and Profane Sorcerers whose hubris leads them to heaven. This is considered merciful compared to allowing them entrance.

Oppression Synthase

  • Moves Fear from the Vulnerable to the Powerful 
  • Produces soluble Oppression.

There are great amounts of potential energy in the Vulnerable. Complexes I through IV have been very busy. Oppression Synthase has much work to do.

It is a great rotary engine of clockwork biomass. It sounds and moves like a great machine press, constantly pounding away with slow, deliberate triplicate piston-chambers.

Soluble Oppression takes many subtle forms. Most of it is whisked away to who-knows-where, for what purpose none dare know. Some of it leaks into our reality along the way. Cruel tyrants and invisible systems of oppression may be born from the tiniest quanta.

Oppression Synthase could not be tolerated in any order begot by gods. To have their creations unafraid was to risk religious-cosmic rebellion. It had to be buried deep - so deep that none could ever conceive of the time without hierarchy, where the vulnerable were unafraid but the powerful were.

So it was cast into the past, buried so deep on the edge of time that none would ever find it.

The problem of this is obvious to anything that exists in time. Not so for gods.

Oppression Synthase never exists in the same time and place for long. It is a cosmic nomad, continuously being cast into the past only to reemerge like a buoyant cork. Nobody but the gods know where and when Oppression Synthase is or was. Eventually, it outlasted even them.

The rituals to move it into the past have been maintained, however, despite gods' passing. There are few who can still recognize the old mechanisms that drive the Synthase's banishment. Such systems are coded in the biology of planets. They're hidden between the unwritten words and taboos of the laws of society. They are written among constellations, cataloged in the spirals of galaxies. The formulae are completely invisible, but won't be forever. Eventually, someone will notice them. Some god-wizard will crack the code, and Oppression Synthase will escape the cycle.

It will come 'round.

ATP Synthase4 - Officially the most awesome protein that ever existed.
ASW-hamburg originally uploaded to Wikipedia under Creative Commons License.
No changes were made.

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