Welcome to our re-read of The Evolutionary Void, part the seventh! This week we're tackling Inigo's 33rd Dream and Chapter Seven. Let’s get going!
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Inigo's 33rd Dream
“We can visit any place on your world where we sense those who are fulfilled gathering in readiness for our guidance to the Heart,” the Skylord had said in answer to Edeard’s question.
Five years after Finitan’s death and two Skylords are now coming to Querencia, but this is a change from what has happened in previous lives where four have come at this point, and Edeard can’t understand why, but he decides to ask them when they arrive.
We learn that while Edeard is now Mayor and has united Makkathran, there is still some opposition to him out in the provinces, though he does not know what will come of them. We also discover that he is no longer with Kristabel, and after a couple of years with Kanseen, who in turn had left Macsen, is now with Hilitte. Macsen’s downfall had been harsh, and the former Master of Sampalok lives alone and spends his money on food and drink, and has also rejected Edeard’s unity. While seemingly successful this time, at least from Edeard’s perspective, unity had not worked the previous two lives, with malcontents subverting it to their own ends.
Edeard comes back to his thoughts on why there are only two Skylords this time.
For all the change he brought, it was only lives he affected; he couldn’t change the weather or make the planets orbit any differently. So why are there only two this time?
The only possible answer was one he simply couldn’t accept.
Dinlay arrives for breakfast with Edeard and they discuss the provinces and their militia movements, with Edeard saying he’ll ride out with Makkathran’s militia to oppose them both and try to bring unity to them. He also slips and refers to Dinlay’s wife as Gealee:
Dinlay glanced up from his croissant. “Gealee? Who’s Gealee?”
Edeard grimaced as he silently cursed his stupidity. “Sorry. My mind wanders these days. I mean Folopa. You can’t take the risk. You’re barely back from your honeymoon.”
We learn that Edeard mostly acts as a moderator between people now, that his election to Mayor was done mostly because of his unity – everyone think like him. It turns out that there is some subtle domination at the heart of his unity, hence the opposition by those not affected by it. Edeard’s family have also sided with Kristabel, none of them talking much, if at all, to him anymore.
Argian comes to Edeard, waking him, to tell him of news about the dissidents against unity, and the events of the most recent raid.
“And?” Edeard asked.
“They fought back.” There were tears glinting in Argian’s eyes now. “I’m so sorry, Edeard. Her concealment was good; we didn’t even know she was there.”
Edeard became still, the hot blood pounding around his body suddenly turning to ice as he perceived the picture forming amid Argian’s thoughts. “No,” he moaned.
Jiska has been hurt and burnt terribly, part of the rebellion against him. He races to see her, but as he approaches her the twins stop him.
“She has suffered enough, Father.”
“She doesn’t need you here to make it worse.”
“Jiska,” he pleaded. “Why?”
“Don’t do that.”
“Don’t pretend your ignorance is some kind of innocence.”
“You’re not ignorant. Nor innocent.”
“You are evil.”
“We will do whatever we can to ruin your empire.”
“And destroy you.”
It becomes apparent to Edeard that it is Kristabel and his family that are the heart of the resistance, and they hate him for the domination he has used to enslave Makkathran. And as he tells them that he is doing it for them, for everyone to achieve fulfilment, the truth of the situation hits him, finally.
“You can rule this world,” they told him with a loving unity whose nobility was infinitely more beautiful than any he had ever imposed. “But we will not be a part of it. One way or another.”
“But we must be one,” he shouted back frantically. “One—” Nation. With that he crumpled to the ground and cried out in anguish as the shock of what he now believed in hit him with a physical impact. Oh, my great Lady, I have become my enemies: Bise, Owain, Buate, the Gilmorn, Tathal, all the others I struggled to overcome. How was I so weak to let them win, to adopt their methods? This cannot stand. This is why fewer Skylords have come. Fulfilment is slipping away from me, from all of us. I knew that. Lady, I always knew that.
Edeard reaches out and returns to the one moment that is as close to the original time as possible, the moment he lands after jumping from the tower, but the time after Tathal has been removed form history. And he realises that, no matter what, he must do right, and he must do it with the support of his family and friends.
And this is the last one; whatever happens, this is what I will live with. Sweet Lady, please, in your infinite wisdom, give me the strength to get it right.
Ozzie makes his entrance at the site of all the fighting, with no longer any sign of Aaron, Inigo, or Corrie-Lyn. The Chikoya immediately ask him where Inigo is, simply because he should know as the creator of what they call the ‘all-perception’. Truth is Ozzie is just as confused as they are about where Inigo disappeared to – one moment he was there, the next he was gone. Ozzie approaches one of the townspeople here:
“So what happened?”
“The guy was a fucking lunatic. He took on a whole army of Chikoya by himself.”
They discuss the situation some more and Ozzie guesses that the reason they are the is the Void, but he doesn’t even know where to start. He decides to contact Aaron, and from there he’s taken to him by capsule.
Ozzie mulls over his past – leaving the Commonwealth after ruined hopes for the gaiafield in the wake of Inigo’s Living Dream movement, and the offer by Nigel to leave the galaxy on a colony starship. But he ended up on the Spike:
The Spike had been a kind of compromise for Ozzie. A withdrawal from Commonwealth life for sure but not a complete retreat the way Nigel had chosen—not that he saw it as a retreat. He did it because there was a slight chance he could still turn things around and reclaim the dream that he’d lost to Inigo, Edeard, and the insidious Void.
As Ozzie lands at Aaron’s location he sees that Inigo and Corrie-Lyn are unconscious – clever! – and gets out to talk. Aaron confirms Ozzie’s identity via DNA, which Ozzie knows is very hard to get hold of, so Aaron’s employer must be quite the player. He also asks Ozzie to turn off the galactic dream, mainly as Inigo can be tracked while conscious as long as it’s on, but Ozzie refuses. Aaron threatens Ozzie with killing of people until he complies:
“Okay. I’ll accept that threat is real for the moment. What does Inigo want with me?”
“He doesn’t know yet. I am following orders from another source to bring you both together.”
“Shit. Who wants that to happen?”
“I don’t know.”
“Come on! Seriously, dude?”
Finally Ozzie agrees to switch it off, but only because he wants to see what Aaron’s boss has planned on how he and Inigo can work together. As it slowly powers down and turns off Aaron starts to get back to normal:
“The telepathy effect was affecting me in an unfortunate way.”
“Right,” Ozzie drawled. “So who the hell are you, dude?”
“Okay. Top of the list, huh?”
Aaron grinned. “Yes. And thank you for agreeing to meet with me. My minimal version doesn’t have a lot of tact.”
Talk about understatement of the century! And with that they wait for Inigo to awaken.
Araminta is staying in Makkathran2, still gifting her sight and emotions to everyone – the more that can see her, the less likely that anyone will try anything funny. As she starts the day news comes to her that Likan is there to see her after being kept in custody of the Living Dream and subjected to a memory read. He is in quite a state. After discussion Araminta tells him she will let him go, but only after he tells her of the three members of his harem were adjusted so she can set that right. After giving in and telling her he is removed from her presence.
Araminta then goes to meet Ethan so they can fly to the starship manufacturing facilities to take a look, marvelling at the twelve hulls in the process of being built. She talks to Ethan about getting to the Void, the fact that this is simply the first wave of ships, and that she plans on being awake throughout the entire voyage to see them in to the Void.
As the freighters with the ultradrive and forcefields arrive at Ellezelin and make their way towards the shipyard, eight stealthed ships come out of hiding to attack, but not with much success. Araminta is somewhat surprised to learn that these ships are protected by the same technology that powers the Sol barrier, making them impervious to damage.
“We can begin installation at once,” Taranse said.
“How long until we’re ready?” she asked.
“If the systems function in accordance with the details they supplied, we’ll be looking at a week.”
“Excellent,” she said. Then I can finally try and stop this madness. I just hope there’s enough time left.
Neskia and Ilanthe are talking on the Ship, discussing Araminta and how she can no longer choose what happens – they will enter the Void, and that is final. They also talk about Gore being on the Anomine home world, and that it’s likely so he can be elevated, but Ilanthe tells here that it is not possible as it will only elevate the Anomine, no other species.
Ilanthe tells Neskia of her plans, that it is not fusion as she previously said, but to use the inversion core to fundamentally change the fabric of all spacetime, bringing the abilities of the Void out into the universe.
“You’re going to change the fundamental laws of the universe?” a shocked Neskia murmured.
“Such a goal is the pinnacle of evolution, elevating an entire universe. We will be the instigators of a genesis from which our mythical gods would cower in awe. Now do you see why I don’t concern myself with the antics of Gore and his kind? I will simply wish them out of existence. And it shall be so.”
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Another week down and ahead of us next time is our last trip into Edeard’s life in Inigo's 47th Dream, while we see more of what’s happening in the Commonwealth in Chapter Eight.