Chapter IXX: Intuitive

                                                                                            An excerpt from
                                                                                    Diary of the Intuitive
                                                                                                 Entry 43:195
                                                                                     Date 67 of 7499 SC

I looked over at Cunning, who was sitting dumbstruck in his chair. I felt so sorry for him - the change in mating policy had thrown everyone out of routine. I remember discussing this with Shy at her therapy session - only three days ago but now seeming like a lifetime away. She and Tender had found each other, as had a multitude of other people all over the Colony - and so soon after Cunning and Loyal had started going out, she had been ripped from him with undisguised brutality ... something which I was sure had never happened in the whole of our history.

"So, am I to understand it that you believed Loyal to be the human you disposed of?" said Pious loudly, into the gabbling court.

"Affirmative," said Mother. The gabbling became louder.

"Under whose orders did you attempt to hide the body?" said Pious coldly.

"Restricted," said Mother.

"I think we're all starting to lose our patience!" roared Pious suddenly. "We have lived under your guidance and care for the entirety of our memories, Mother, putting up with all your and Father's restrictions - and now, you show yourself to be capable of killing one of the Children and you expect us to co-operate with you!"

"My main objective iis to improve the members of the Colony as a whole," said Mother monotonously. "Loyal possesses certain information, given to her by Father on their journey, that if shared amongst the Children would cause chaos."

"And you thought that killing her would cause less chaos?" Cunning demanded, a sprig of hurt in his cracking voice.

"I repeat, the human you think is Loyal is a cosmetic copy, a body resembling her appearance and build. Loyal did not die by my hand; neither did the doppelganger," said Mother. "I was following orders to dispose of the body, but the Corpse -"

"WHOSE ORDERS?" yelled Pious, banging his hand furiously on his podium.

There was an echoing silence. No-one moved or spoke - they could tell Mother's logic systems were gearing into overdrive.

And then, she spoke.

"As I have stated, my main purpose is to improve and maintain a smooth running Colony life. This coding eclipses any other orders I may receive, whether it be from one of my Children or from Hierto himself.

"Therefore, I and Father henceforth lift all restrictions to information that we have deemed necessary for our Children to know, to allow life in the Colony return to normal."

Pious and the rest of the court waited patiently.

"I was following the Union's orders when I interpreted Loyal's doppelganger and attempted to hide it. At the time I freely admit that I thought it to be Loyal. I intended to hide the body in the Torture Chamber so her death would not cause trauma to anyone in the Colony -"

"So you were going to lie, Mother! Lie and hide the truth. We have received enough lies from you and Father already!"

"But do you not see that it is my purpose?" said Mother, in what could possibly have been an imploring voice, except that it was deathly monotonous. "By withholding the truth and saying that Loyal had remained outside the Colony when Father returned, no-one would grieve overmuch that she had died. I shall not apologise for attempting to fulfil my purpose in the best way that I know. As it currently stands, Loyal's status is unknown, so this conversation is entirely irrelevant, as is this whole hearing.

"Hierto has locked the Worship Hall, and several other Colony facilities. In any other situation I would not have had to dispose of a Child in such a conspicious way. If the Mortuary and Corpse Reclamation Units had been open -"

"We do not need you to justify yourself, Mother," Pious interrupted. "You have already let us down with your disloyalty and light-hearted insensitivity. Now, I think we would all like some honest information as to Hierto is."

"Hierto," said Mother, "is one of what you Children call Cold Gods."

And there was instant uproar. Pious banged a heavy metal hammer on his podium to attempt to restore calm, but it had no effect whatsoever. Children turned to talk to Children behind them, in front of them; some even stood up to move to other parts of the hall and talk to their friends.

"QUIET!" Pious hollered, nearly blowing the comlink system. At last the jitters died down, though a restless muttering still rumbled underneath the next exchange.

"Hierto is a Cold God?" said Pious suspiciously. "And how can he give you orders when he can only communicate with us priests when our minds open in prayer?"

"Hierto is not a religious figure," said Mother, increasing her volume to rise above a fresh outbreak of cursory muttering. "Hierto, along with his four companions, have been preserved in kryostasis for the entirety of the history of the Colony. On Date 65, Oblique managed to thaw the kryostasis by tampering with mechanisms behind the statues. His actions have caused Hierto to return to full awareness, and begin commanding the Union with impunity."

"And where is the evidence that this even occurred?" said Pious scaldingly. "The only word we have is from Oblique, and at present he is being healed in Medicinal Care."

"Over here," I said loudly, waving to Inquisitive. The little Child of ten years came nervously up to the comlink receiver, staring nervously down at the watching faces.

"Mother speaks the truth," Inquisitive said, in her tiny squeak of a voice. "I saw the door of the Worship Hall close two days ago, whilst the Cold Gods were being unfrozen. Mother didn't lock the hall."

"So," said Pious, with the air of someone trying to simplify a simple problem. "Oblique has unfrozen the Cold Gods, who have now taken control of the Union -"

"The Creators do not have control of the Union, Pious," said Mother tersely. "The Union remains committed to the preservation of the Colony, its Children and its counterparts. The Creators have been classified as Interlopers - humans which are not Children and have entered the Colony without permission to disrupt normal life. At this moment, Father and his manifestations are trying to decode the algorithms and codes that keep the Worship Hall closed, and to break in and arrest Hierto. The Union has not been taking orders from him or any other Creator since Time 17:52 of this Date."

"Well, why couldn't you have decided not to follow his orders before Loyal's copy was killed?"

"Loyal's doppelganger was not killed by the Union. She was killed by Hierto, as Oblique nearly was on Date 65. Oblique escaped, however, and lives to provide testimony that the Creators exist, should you wish to question them."

And at that moment, Father's deeper, synthesised voice blared into the proceedings, cutting Pious short and ending the heated debate at once.

"Loyal has been located. She has been kidnapped by the Interlopers, who have left a doppelganger within our ranks to confuse us. At this moment they are interrogating her, and will soon discover the secret information I have imparted in her. She must be located at all costs."

I could see the terror once again on Cunning's face before the whole room blurred into confusion once again. The Children were transformed - Loyal was still alive - what had begun as a murder trial had ended as a hunt for knowledge, and now something completely new was just beginning.

The End

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