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12: God Emperor of Kathoom III

Posted on Fri Aug 14th, 2020 @ 11:25pm by Commander Rita Paris & Lieutenant Commander Mnhei'sahe Dox
Edited on on Wed Aug 19th, 2020 @ 9:52pm

Mission: The Bulikaya Particle
Location: Konaar, capitol city of Kathoom
Timeline: 3,946 years A.R.
Tags: Rita Bulikaya

On a good day Rita could run thirty-nine kilometers, on a relatively flat and level surface, in two hours and some change. Once she was out of sight of the village, she stowed her armor and stretched, studying the long range scan data. It verified what she’d been trold, and showed a city with a population of 512,672. Which, by Kathoom standards, was enormous. The city of Durebahd, the headquarters of the Masters, was three thousand seven hundred and thirty-two souls, and that had been the largest gathering of life she had seen in nearly three months of surveying Kathoom.

Scanners also said it used to be here, and the village had shown no sign of having held the vast coliseum or the city that sprawled around it, the slave docks and barracks. All that had been wiped away by history, by sand and time and the memories of men.

Yet she had persevered, as an idea... but one perverted to serve the earthly will of men, not the betterment of the people.

The land as far as she could see was a hard, dry, sun-baked landscape. At a few of the pillars, vegetation sprouted, a rarity in the desert. She had discussed aqueducts with Ta’ak, who was excited to build them. Yet none of the villages in their shadow seemed to benefit from all this precious water.

It all just flowed to the city.

Two hours and change on a good day in 1G. 1/4 gravity gave her muscles considerably more spring, and the suit itself added that much more with amazing traction, no thigh chafing, and she could run in air conditioning.

Once she was limbered up, she suited up. She was approaching the city 32 minutes later.

Landing deftly and quietly atop the towering aqueduct, she looked out upon the city of Konaar.

The aqueduct led into a massive, circular wall that wrapped around the exterior perimeter of the city within. Looking at the wall, her suit’s sensors fed the dimensions to her in a running scroll on her heads up display. From her higher vantage, she could see that the desert ran up to the curved, stone and clay wall that ran almost featureless around the city at an angle, 35 meters high all around. At her best estimate, 18 to 22 kilometers in diameter if the curvature remained consistent.

Every half klik, there was a large, guarded wood and iron gate, but she had no intention of knocking and asking to be let in. From where she was, she could see at least one more of the aqueducts leading into the walls in the far distance that lead into different regions of the endless dessert that was Kathoom, and both flowed into the wall itself, too low to allow anyone walking along the top to enter the city. But Rita also wasn’t walking.

Another well-timed leap ,and she was quickly on top of the thick stone and clay wall. Using the memetic features built into her EVA suit, she changed the shimmering gold to a dull beige to match the clay of the wall to help mask her presence as she knelt upon the edge facing in. And she didn’t like what she saw.

The city of Konaar was built of what appeared to be three, concentric rings of elevated stone walls that separated the city into smaller, sub sections. In the center, some 10 kilometers in, was the palace that the Magistrate Commander had described to her. Shimmering, marble towers topped with golden spires and turquoise roofs showed an opulence in the heart of the city that did NOT extend into the outer ring that she overlooked. In the center, at the top of the tallest tower, she focused and saw what her sensors told her was a 25 meter tall golden statue. A statue of her.

Immediately below her, at the interior base of the wall, was a deep trench that seemed to be where a massive growth of dry, thorny thicket grew. Inside that, was block upon block of shorter, two or three story clay and stone buildings that seemed to be held together with lashed wood and hope. Frowning, what she looked down upon was clearly a slum. Shuffling 35 meters down, she could see many locals making their way between the buildings that seemed stacked upon themselves. On every other street corner, the leather armored Magistrates could be seen standing as living reminders to the population to keep in line.

Looking past the filthy slums, she could see the second ring. Within that, were what looked like more well constructed buildings. The beginnings of some form of industry. Elevated plateaus where citizens in rags worked fields of crops. It was the workers ring, worked by those that lived in the slums beneath her. All overseen by her own shining face. Looking over the city, Rita felt her stomach twist from anger to utter disgust. This was a world of terrible inequity, carried out in her own name.

Rule 1- boots on the ground. If you want to assess the situation, you have to get close to it. The villagers at Maaco had been kind enough to give her some simple garb to wear, and changing clothes could be accomplished rather simply. So, bounding across the rooftops at rather high speed, she came to the second ring. Scouting it out, she looked for where entry might be had into the third ring, but it wasn’t obvious. She’d have to make some friends first.

Or at least try, before she started a revolution.

Spotting some fruit bearers, carrying the baskets from the fields looked like a likely spot to start. Bounding behind a barn, she paused to scan and insure that she hadn’t been followed. Then she shunted her armor and her uniform into the extradimensional space accessed by her bronze bracers of the moon and sun. Popping out the shift, sandals and head covering the villagers had given her, Rita still stuck out like a sore thumb, and realized ‘blending with the populace’ wasn’t going to work so well. Standing in her rags behind the barn, Rita Paris struggled to formulate a plan.

Think, Rita. This isn’t the first time you’ve had to liberate a world on a tight schedule. You can’t blend with the populace, you do NOT look like the locals. And you can’t just walk in the front gate, announce yourself and start marching through the streets collecting the people until you beat down the doors of the last gate and force them to share with all.

Eyebrows rose as she considered that.

Or I could do exactly that, and let the people liberate themselves... In her mind’s eye, she tried to imagine how she would rationalize this to a board of inquiry. They were twisting the ideals of the Federation for oppression. Her first contact had been influential and she had a moral obligation to set things right. It was an injustice done in her name, in the name of Starfleet and the Federation.

It was wrong, and she would see it made right.

Trading out her peasant’s rags for her uniform, then her armor, Rita bounded back out of the city again, searching for the main gate. After all, it seemed she had an entrance to make.


“Again? You’re really going to try this again, C’Riss?” The lean, young guard said to his counterpart on the other end of the main gate to the second ring of the city. The gate that separated the slums from the farms and factories.

The two men were dressed in scuffed, red leather armor rimmed with slightly tarnished golden accents. Holding ornate, largely ceremonial looking pikes and freshly polished, but still older looking helmets, they were standing straight, but nowhere near attention as they talked back and forth. The gate behind them was a thick, old wood with iron filigree patterns around the edges that led from the first ring to the workers center.

“Yes, M’Raan. Why is this so hard for you to understand.” The shorter of the two replied to his fellow guard. “I failed my last test because you and I had too much ale the night before. But this time I will not allow myself to be distracted.

“So you say.” The one called M’Raan scoffed before his partner continued.

“Look… I did not join the Magistrates ranks to guard a door. The deadlands is where the action is. If I can be granted admission into the warriors academy, I could be moved to a full ranking Magistrate. Assigned to a Phalanx and sent out into the wastes beyond the furthest cities.” C’Riss said, with enthusiasm in his voice. “I’m stifled here, guarding doors. Guarding the grain depots. Guarding the worker barracks. Guarding... things… all day long.”

“What’s wrong with our duties, C’Riss? We serve an important purpose. We serve the church and protect the God-Emperor. What we do here is important!” M’Raan argued, sounding irritated as this was a debate the two men had clearly had many times prior.

“We’re… statues. Nothing ever happens here, M’Raan!” C’Riss argued back. “I swear you try and sabotage my attempts at advancing because you don’t like guard duty with Jhoon Jarrin or anyone from his division?”

“Jarrin is an arrogant, self-important ass. No, I don’t want to be paired with him again. I’m paired with him every time you leave to take the trials. It’s annoying.” came the reply, as the taller of the two men rolled his eyes.

“Well… get used to it, because THIS time, I WONT fail my trials and I WILL be assigned to somewhere were something ACTUALLY happens for a change.” C’Riss said defiantly.

Then, as if on cue, they both stopped as they heard the sound of voices and marching feet coming from the main street before them. Narrowing their gazes, they both tightened their grips on their pikes with concern. Uprisings and civil disobedience was extremely rare, and had never occurred on either man’s watch, but they had the training beaten into them as they were taught that such things could happen at a moment’s notice. It was an ever present threat they hoped to never have to deal with.

But all that training couldn’t have prepared them for what they now saw rounding the corner and walking defiantly towards them.

A woman… taller than either of them… wearing a golden armor that seemed to glisten in the afternoon sun, striding like royalty. Behind her, a crowd of the local riff-raff all chanting something as they got closer.

“The way is life. Life is freedom. Freedom is choice!” Came the raised voices from the approaching mob. Then, as they got closer, the guards eyes went wide as the boy, B’Jen’s had earlier that day, so far from here, as they could see the features of the woman in gold.

The… the R… Ritaris…” They both muttered in awe, as they saw the face of their godhead striding confidently towards them with stern determination.

“Good afternoon, gentlemen. My name is Rita Paris. I’m Starfleet. I’m here to help. It seems your society has a bit of a wrong impression of me and my teachings, and I think it’s time we all had a talk with the God-Emperor together, don’t you?” The woman spoke with a smile, and her hands were open- she bore no weapon, nor did her followers. The rather impressively large mob were peaceful- excited, yes, but they did not brandish weapons or torches, as had been warned they would should the peasants, the Doles, ever rise up. Instead, this uprising seemed to be a peaceful one, led somewhat impossibly by the Ritaris herself, golden armor and all

It was not a situation for which either man had ever been prepared, and now, faced with it, they were uncertain as to how to proceed.

Nervously, both guards looked at each other, then at Rita and back to each other, completely flummoxed. C'Ress muttered first, blurting out the first thing that he could think of, which given the circumstances, was not the most well thought out of responses. "Uh… do… do you have… an appointment?"

Immediately, M'Raan all but facepalmed as he groaned in embarrassment. "Really?" He whispered across at the other man as Rita simply watched and waited.

Whispering, both guards began to shoot comments under their breath, back and forth.

"Yes, really! What!?"
"It's the RITARIS! She doesn't need an… don't be an idiot!"
"I'm not an idiot, it's PROTOCOL."
"There's no protocol for THIS?!"
"I KNOW that. You think I don't know that?"

After a few seconds, M'Raan cleared his throat, trying to smile as he worked out what to do, trying not to panic. "I beg of your grace, oh Great Ritaris. But… uh… our duties… uh… demand that your… PRESENCE… be announced?"

It was clear he was making the rule up in hopes of covering their own posteriors in the impossible situation as he smiled awkwardly.

“Tell me, gentlemen- what is the purpose of this gate?” The apparent prophetess asked, eyeing the large gate in a very large wall.

“The primary ring gate protects the people from invaders from the southern regions and the beasts of the deadlands.” C’Ress replied, in a tone that Rita recognized as an officer reciting a memorized regulation that had been ingrained in them. “The Second ring gate protects the vital fruits of the people’s labors from those that would betray their brothers for that which they have not earned. The Golden Ring gate is the passage through which only the greatest among us may pass. The Great Priests of the Riii… the… YOUR Priests… and their closest followers. And those that directly serve our wise God-Emperor.”

As he rattled off the meaningless list, M’Raan watched Rita’s face, which seemed thoroughly unmoved by the recitation. Nervously… he added. “The gates are to protect… uh… the people.”

As he spoke, it was clearly something he hadn’t given much real thought to until just now, as he looked at the throngs of the actual people, knowing full well that his orders were not to let them in, unless ordered to by an authority.

“The people should all be equal. All should share in the fruits of labors equally. Here and now, I think we need to make an adjustment to this social dynamic.” Stepping back a few paces, the golden armor-clad woman flicked her wrist, and a black device with a pistol grip appeared in her hand. Adjusting it, she pointed to the wall and a golden beam of light extended from her hand. Waving it in a wide arc, nearly as wide as the street that led up to it, she described a semicircle, that left the stone smoking in its wake.

Stepping up to the wall, she braced herself against it, then looked to the Magistrates M’Raan and C’Ress. With a smile, she asked politely, “I could use a little help, if you’re willing...”

At the sight of the phaser blast, both men stood, frozen in awe for a moment. Like the legends of old, this was the Ritaris made flesh. And the Ritaris wanted to go to the temple.

“Uh… uh… yes. YES!” M’Raan muttered, propping his pike up against the gate and nudging C’Ress in the arm.

Snapping out of his shock, the young guard who had craved adventure and wanted to be part of something more important was in very real risk of blankly staring his way through exactly that. Looking over at his partner, the young guard followed suit and both men walked over to the phasered section of the wall. Placing their hands on the section, they looked at Rita for approval for what to do next.

“On three... one... two... threeeee...” On the count of three, Rita strained and pushed with the men, but not nearly as hard as she pretended. This was, after all, the people’s movement, not hers. She was here to point the way and clear the obstacles, but it had to be the people’s will that moved these mountains.

The two young Magistrates put their backs into it and strained, and as they panted, M’Raan turned to regard the living savior. “We lack the strength, Great Ritaris...”

“No, my friend... WE do not lack the strength,” the golden clad vision of prophecy declared, as dozens rushed forward to place their hands upon the wall, to lend what strength they had to the cause. As the multitudes pushed and surged forward, Rita’s onboard scanners showed her the tipping point, and she added in her own higher gravity augmented strength in earnest, and the semicircular wall section fell with a thunderous crash, and a cheer arose from the crowd.

“Walk with us, friends? Shall we not all go speak with the God-Emperor this day?” the porcelain-skinned beauty asked the two Magistrates, the young men swept up in momentous events.

Passing through into the second ring of the city, Rita and her ever growing entourage of followers began walking through the center of the agricultural district. As they walked, they passed through rows of crops, as the hands working the sun baked fields stopped what they were doing at the impossible sight of their living god walking amongst them.

“The… the Ritaris… She has… she has returned to us!” Came the voice of a young girl with an armful of corn-like, blue grain that she dropped in shock. One by one, the group following her grew as they came upon the metal tubing that was spraying water over the fields of crops.

The people behind Rita stopped short as they approached, almost instinctively beginning to change course to avoid the raining water they had been taught wasn’t for them by their overloads. Their thirst was palpable as the oldest among them looked with longing eyes and chapped lips at the life-giving irrigation raining down upon the crops. Water that they had been taught to believe they were selfish for wanting.

“Please... water is for all. Quench your thirst, my friends. Water is life, and we should all share with our neighbors. Why is all this water brought from so far away, if not to keep us all alive?” Knowing full well that every word she said was liable to end up as scripture, Rita was choosing her words particularly carefully. “We are all children of the universe. We all have a the right to live, to drink, to eat and to be safe. To help our neighbors, to uplift not one above, but to uplift us all together.”

Taking it all in, it was clear that the irrigation systems had been crafted thousands of years ago, sturdy construction that had lasted the test of time- unlike the coliseum of the Masters. While there were spot repairs here and there, it was clear that runnels alongside the aqueduct were meant to bring water to pipes which led to the city, but no water flowed from them.

Also, all of the tools were simple- simpler, she noted, than they had been when last she’d been here. Thousands of years had passed, and a civilization capable of constructing such a massive undertaking as the aqueducts that flowed into the city should have advanced, not regressed. Judging from what she had seen, these people would be lucky to know how to repair the system should it break down, and maintenance she suspected was something of a lost art for the engineering marvel.

Learning had not been compounded. The common man, even most of the Magistrates, did not know how to read nor write. Hardly anyone owned a book, and learning seemed to have been handed down largely through oral traditions. This was a society whose development had been forcibly stunted, much like the world itself.

All this water could have been irrigating the land outside the city, giving birth to a lush verdant land. Instead, denied of life-bringing water, the earth was hard-packed sand. Dry and lifeless. It could have been shared with the people in the slums, along with the fruits of their labors. But like the water, all of it flowed toward the center of their society, the center of Konaar, the seat of the Ritaris religion.

Home of the current incarnation of the God Emperor of Kathoom.

The very first God Emperor of Kathoom was coming to have words with him about just that. And it seemed she was bringing most of the city with her.


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