Sacred Host

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Qoheleth
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Re: Sacred Host

Post by Qoheleth » Mon Jun 29, 2009 8:25 am

Chapter 10: An Unlikely Ally

The rendezvous point, in true Skrit Na fashion, was located in the most God-forsaken corner of the Sonoran Desert that the chawkwa traders could find. Fortunately, it being early December, the temperature was relatively reasonable – only 81 degrees Fahrenheit, as opposed to the 110 or 120 that the same spot might have achieved in mid-August – but, still, Hork-Bajir are not desert animals, and when Toloth stepped out of the fighter and felt the dry, parched air hit his borrowed skin, he found himself wishing that the Skrit Na captain could have found some equally isolated spot somewhere in the Cascades.

"All right, Toloth Two-Nine-Four," said the Sub-Visser. "You have half an hour to negotiate a trade price for the chawkwa seeds. If you fail…" He trailed off ominously, and glanced at a pale-yellow bloodstain on the floor that was left over from Temrash Six-Oh-Three’s untimely demise of an hour before.

Toloth nodded grimly, and strode toward the preposterous, discus-shaped spacecraft sitting on the New Mexico sand.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A Na scuttled forward to greet him as he entered the ship. "Welcome, welcome, most noble and puissant Yeerk warrior!" he said in his thin, reedy voice. "As captain of the scavenger vessel Bisumalkan, I extend the most cordial greetings of the Skrit-Na people to you and your host. May I interest you in some exotic Talapsee refreshments?"

"I would like to see the chawkwa seeds," said Toloth.

"Of course you would," the Na captain readily agreed. "A race so thoroughly practical as your own has little time for pleasantries. Right this way, please."

He turned and scurried toward the back of the ship, bounding along Na-fashion on his knuckles and the balls of his feet. Toloth laboriously followed after him, his horns scraping against the absurdly low ceiling as he did so.

<He is big talker,> Gef observed.

<He’s a Na,> said Toloth briefly. (He no longer found it odd or alarming when his host struck up conversations with him out of the blue like this; if he thought of it at all, he accepted it as part of the general degradation that had come upon him when he gave in to Gef’s blackmail.) <They’re all in love with the sounds of their own voices.>

<Toloth know Na?> said Gef, sounding interested.

<Me?> said Toloth. <Certainly not. I’ve never even seen one before today.>

<Then how Toloth know what they are like?>

<I just do,> said Toloth, who had no intention of attempting to explain the concept of general report to his bark-eating host. <Now shut up and let me concentrate. I’m going to need all my wits about me in a few minutes.>

Gef, who was completely ignorant of his Controller’s plans, assumed that he was referring to the negotiations for the chawkwa seeds, and obligingly fell silent. Toloth followed the Na captain through the maze of corridors that made up the Bisumalkan’s storage hold, until suddenly the latter stopped, reared back on his hind legs, and indicated a large crate propped against the wall. "Your chawkwa, O valiant one," he said. "I regret that I cannot present it to you properly, but, alas, the amount your Sub-Visser requested is more than my poor limbs can handle. However, you, using as you do the majestic arms of a young and virile Hork-Bajir, will doubtless find it a simple matter to…"

Toloth ignored him and lifted the lid of the crate. Inside were chawkwa seeds, certainly, although it was hard to recognize illutilagh – the soft, tingling liquid in which Hawjabran emperors bathed – in the small, brown, utterly unexceptional seeds in front of him. Still, as a Yeerk, Toloth knew as well as anyone in the galaxy how little appearances ultimately counted for.

He ran his hand through the box, searching for any seeds that felt flaccid against his palm. Finding no more than the acceptable number, he nodded and replaced the lid. "Your merchandise is satisfactory, captain," he said. "On behalf of Sub-Visser One Hundred and Fifty-Three, I extend my thanks."

The captain bowed in a manner reminiscent of an Oriental kowtow. "It is an honor to be of service to so illustrious a personage," he said. "If there is anything else that my humble ship can provide, please do not hesitate to…"

Toloth cleared his throat. "Actually, there is one other thing," he said.

"Name it, O mightiest of the sons of Silat," said the captain.

Toloth took a deep breath. "I don’t suppose that you are familiar with it," he said, "but there seems to be a major religion on this planet that centers around a figure called Jesus. If, in any of your travels, you should happen to come across some source of information about this religion, I would be interested in…"

He trailed off. An expression was coming over the captain’s face that he didn’t quite know how to categorize, for the excellent reason that no non-Na had ever seen such an expression on a Na face in recorded history. Ever since the Great Persecution (a period in Skrit-Na history roughly coeval with Earth’s Oligocene, when an alliance of ten alien races – including the Five – had decided that the newly-Z-space-capable Skrit Na were a threat to the order and stability of the Galaxy, and had duly attempted to exterminate them), every Na had been trained from pupation to keep his distance from aliens, to let them view him as an occasionally useful but ultimately insignificant curiosity, and, above all, to never show them any genuine emotion. Over the course of thirty million years, this training had hardened into something almost like instinct: many Na were not physically capable of showing emotion to an alien, and most of the rest could only do so under the influence of a severe shock – such as, it seemed, the one Toloth had given the captain by mentioning the name of Jesus.

"Is it possible?" the captain whispered. "Has the Word then reached even to the Visserarchy of the Yeerk Empire?"

"The Word?" said Toloth, puzzled. "What word?"

"The Word," said the captain. "The gospel of Jesus Christ, which brings the hope of salvation to all fallen beings."

This bit of pious rhetoric was not terribly illuminating to Toloth, to whom "salvation" was a move in the Korla strategy game kree-ulorrd, and "fallen beings" meant members of subjugated races. However, if he had learned nothing about Christianity from the captain’s words, he had learned something quite remarkable about the captain. "You don’t mean to tell me," he said in disbelief, "that the Skrit Na actually profess this human religion?"

"Indeed we do," said the captain. "Why should that surprise you? It is the task of my people to seek out the treasures of the universe; when we find the greatest treasure of all, why should we not partake of it?"

Put that way, it did seem logical. Toloth was acquainted with the tendency of collectors to take their little hobbies too seriously; the Skrit Na themselves were living evidence of that. As they collected various races’ systems of philosophy, it was only natural that they should come to believe in them; probably every crackpot religion in the Galaxy had a few thousand followers among the Skrit Na.

"No," said the captain, "it is no wonder that our race has come to know the Lord. The wonder is that your master, the Yeerk Sub-Visser whose number I did not quite catch, should have done so. I know of the penalty that your Empire inflicts for sympathizing with host species; that a high official of that Empire should be so filled with the zeal for truth as to dare such a fate is as glorious a testimony to the power of Christ as has ever been recorded in this cosmos. I would fain speak with this blessed Sub-Visser, that I might hear from his own mouth how the grace of Christ has…"

"You misunderstand me, captain," said Toloth hastily. "Sub-Visser One Hundred and Fifty-Three has no knowledge of your religion. The information I seek is on behalf of my host, who has been persuaded by a young human female that this Jesus religion is worthy of his belief."

The Skrit Na captain cocked his head. "Indeed?" he said, sounding slightly disappointed but still basically pleased. "In that case, would you be good enough to extend your host’s right hand?"

This request was so unexpected that Toloth complied automatically before he had fully processed it. The captain’s next action was even more disconcerting: he extended his own right hand, touched the tips of his fingers to those of Gef's, and wiggled them back and forth with an air of great solemnity for about seven seconds.

"Um… excuse me," said Toloth at length, "but may I ask what you are doing?"

The captain glanced up at him with an air of mild puzzlement, as though surprised that he should have to ask. "I was greeting my brother with a holy kiss," he said, "as is prescribed by the Sacred Scriptures."

Had Toloth been a student of xenoanthropology, it might have interested him to learn that a Skrit-Na kiss consisted essentially of what a human would have called an electro-shock handshake. As it was, however, it was another implication of the captain’s words that interested him much more. "Sacred Scriptures?" he repeated. "There are holy writings associated with this religion, then?"

"Certainly there are, O noble one," said the captain. "If the Word is to truly be the Word, it must be written as well as spoken."

"Can you give me a collection of these writings?" said Toloth eagerly. A book: perfect. No need for self-righteous human females or bombastic Skrit-Na captains; whenever Gef wanted to know something, they could just consult the book.

"Nothing would give me greater pleasure, most illustrious Controller of my beloved brother in Christ," said the captain with a fresh kowtow. "If you will kindly excuse me one moment…"

He scuttled off through one of the storage-hold corridors, returning in about five minutes with a bulky volume bound in some red, shimmery material. Wordlessly, he extended it to Toloth, who took it and examined it critically. HOLY BAIBUL, said the Galard characters on the cover. (The fact that it was written in Galard surprised Toloth, who had expected it to be in either the original Earthly language or in the captain’s own tongue. It occurred to him that perhaps the captain considered himself obligated to have a Galard copy available, on the off chance that an alien should someday express curiosity about the teachings of Jesus.)

He ran a claw over the smooth, red cover. "A curious binding, this," he said. "It almost feels like amber, yet I have never heard of amber this color."

"It is blood-amber," said the captain proudly. "You are perhaps familiar with the Djai’voro practice of making trophies from the blood of their enemies? We have discovered the crystallization process from them, and we use it to bind our Baibuls – in memory, you understand, of the most holy Blood that was shed at Calvary."

"Of course," said the mystified Toloth politely. "But if it comes to that, I have never heard of blood this color, either."

"It is not common," the captain admitted. "Apart from a few minor planets devoid of sentient life, the only modern ecosystem I know of that features red-blooded animals is that of Earth itself. Generally, therefore, the blood of Earthly sub-sentients is used for this sort of thing; I believe the material of that particular binding was taken from a large, grazing Earth-beast known as a cow."

"I see," said Toloth with a slight shudder. Like most Yeerks, particularly Hork-Bajir-Controllers, he had an innate aversion to unnecessary bloodshed, and the notion of carrying around a book bound with the vital fluids of an alien grazing animal was not a pleasant one for him. Nonetheless, if it had to be, it had to be.

"You are very kind, captain," he said. "However, your generosity presents a problem. There are a number of human-Controllers on board the Sub-Visser’s Bug fighter, and, if I return to the ship with this… this ‘Baibul’ in my hand, they may possibly recognize it as a human religious text. As you have just now pointed out, the penalties for sympathizing with a host species are quite severe, and…"

"And you are unwilling to die for your host’s beliefs," said the captain. "Quite properly. Let me see, perhaps a carrying dimension… or would they recognize that as well?"

Toloth blinked. "I doubt it," he said. "Why, what is a ‘carrying dimension’?"

"A pocket in Zero-space," said the captain. "Tied to your host’s biorhythms, so that it will remain in the same place relative to you at all times, and capable of concealing any object of a reasonable size. Here, I will make you one."

Before Toloth had a chance to either accept or decline this offer, the captain had scurried around a nearby corner, returning a moment later with a short, rounded rod that glowed purple at one end. He raised himself on his hind legs and made a number of movements with this rod in the air next to Toloth’s upper right arm; then, with a quiet air of authority that was the most captain-like think Toloth had noticed about him thus far, he took the Baibul from his hand and…

Toloth wasn’t quite sure what happened next. As near as he could make it out, the captain had simply shoved the Baibul toward the patch of air that he had just been poking at with the rod, and the Baibul had obediently vanished. It looked like straightforward black magic, and Toloth couldn’t keep from letting out a little yelp of surprise.

"The technology was Generational in origin, I believe," said the captain conversationally. "You will now be able to retrieve the Baibul at any time merely by placing your hand in the general area of the pocket and willing the Baibul to appear. Try it, I beg of you."

Hesitantly, Toloth did as the captain had described, and, sure enough, he found himself grasping the smooth, crystalline surface of the blood-amber binding. Then, to make sure he understood the principle, he willed it to go back, and it disappeared again. Then he took it back out and put it away again a couple more times, just for the fun of it. He might have gone on like this for quite some time, if he hadn’t happened to catch sight of a Twelkish sulfur clock leaning up against the wall of the ship; it brought the idea of time into his head, and he suddenly remembered the Sub-Visser’s warning about having half an hour to negotiate a price for the chawkwa seeds.

"Well, captain," he said, straightening himself hastily, "you have indeed been most remarkably generous. There remains only the question of the payment you expect for your goods."

"Ah, yes, the payment," said the captain. "There will be no charge for the Baibul and the carrying dimension; I would be a wretched fellow indeed if I expected payment for my works of mercy. As for your chawkwa, I believe a portion of the claw on your host’s right thumb would answer nicely."

The sellith’s mind is a curious thing. Toloth had realized, when he brought up the subject of costs, that the captain might well make some absurdly extravagant request, and that he would be forced to agree merely to meet the Sub-Visser’s deadline. He had braced himself for this, and was fully ready, when the captain spoke, to concede anything short of the Sub-Visser’s Bug fighter – and, as a result, when the captain set his price at a Hork-Bajir fingernail clipping, Toloth was utterly discommoded.

"A portion of my host’s claw?" he repeated. "Come now, captain, that cannot be your whole request."

"That is the entirety of it, most eminent one," said the captain. "A bodily relic of the first Hork-Bajir saint is as worthy a treasure as I ever hoped to acquire; give me that, and you may have every chawkwa seed that I possess."

The definiteness of his tone annihilated any lingering desire Toloth might have had to haggle. With a sigh, he pulled out his Dracon beam, flipped it to setting one, and seared off a chunk of claw with a grimace and handed it to the captain, who took it with more tenderness than most humans would have picked up a baby. This done, he lifted the case of chawkwa seeds and made his way back out to the Bug fighter, wondering as he did so how he was going to describe this bizarre adventure to the Sub-Visser and his fellow guards.

Qoheleth
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Re: Sacred Host

Post by Qoheleth » Thu Jul 02, 2009 11:41 am

Chapter 11 - Except Some Man Should Guide Me

As it turned out, this was not really a problem. The Sub-Visser and his guards had all taken it for granted that negotiating with a Skrit Na would be a surreal experience for any rational being; the suggestion that the captain had sold Toloth a crateful of chawkwa seeds in exchange for a fragment of Hork-Bajir claw struck them as simply par for the course. It never occurred to them to wonder whether there might be a logical reason for such behavior, and Toloth was in no way eager to suggest the notion to them.

Besides, no sooner had the Bug fighter lifted off from the desert ground than a dispute broke out between two of the Sub-Visser’s attendants over whether the Esiln-Kalkat illutilagh ought to be prepared in the classical style or according to the recipe of Prince Kokimmin. They were both very forceful in defense of their preferences (it occurred to Toloth that, had Hawjabrans been infestable, these two would have been in more danger of treason by sympathy with a subject species than he was), and, as the Sub-Visser declined to give an opinion one way or the other, the argument was allowed to continue until the ship arrived back at the Sulp Niar pool, at which point nobody on board wanted to so much as think about chawkwa seeds anymore. Toloth was later to think of this as the third positive grace of God he received that day (the first two being the Na’s two-sentient-beings requirement and the captain’s happening to be a Christian), but at the time he merely noted his good fortune and put the matter out of his mind. Thus is gratitude, along with the other virtues, subtly quenched in the unbelieving soul.

Later that evening, as the Sub-Visser and the other guards began to lapse into dulot – that curious state of semi-awareness by which Yeerks refresh their host bodies – Toloth discreetly slipped away to a deserted corner of the Bug fighter, and, taking his new Baibul from its carrying dimension, began to read the Word of God.

He himself, looking back on this, was never quite clear as to what exactly he expected to find. The idea of something like a catechism, beginning with the most basic first principles and leading in logical progression to the more abstruse doctrines, was perhaps vaguely in his mind. Whatever his preconceptions, however, he quickly discovered that the Christian Scriptures fulfilled none of them.

The book began with an account of the creation of the universe. This was, of course, no novelty to Toloth, who was familiar with the traditional creation myths of both the Hork-Bajir and the Kandronist Yeerks. What surprised him about this particular account, however, was how – well, how dull it was. There was no hint of the lavish imagination that had made Lasra a protected citadel of the children of Kandrona, or the Hork-Bajir homeworld a gift from Father Deep to Mother Sky. Instead, there was simply a dry recitation, almost a checklist: God made light and found it good, and then He made Earth’s atmosphere and found it good, and so on. It was almost as though the human who had written the account had been trying simply to establish that God had made the world and that the world was good, and had done his best to discourage his readers from bothering themselves about the details. Once again, Toloth found himself feeling uncomfortably like a barbarian intruding on a conference of philosophers.

He read on. The next few chapters seemed rather more like the sort of thing he was used to in religious texts, although even here the purely mythic elements seemed curiously subordinate to the philosophical and ethical ideas with which they were interwoven. He learned the details of Teresa’s story involving the first two humans and the forbidden tree (apparently there had been a second sentient species on Earth at some point); he learned that the refraction of light was a symbol of God's mercy (or at least it was on Earth); he learned that linguistic barriers were a divinely instituted penalty for arrogance (then why didn’t Andalites have any?). What he did not find, however – and what, after a while, began to puzzle him by its absence – was any reference to the name of Jesus.

After reading some seventeen chapters without learning anything about the figure who particularly interested his host, it occurred to him that perhaps the Skrit Na publishers had provided the Baibul with an index, and he turned to the end of the book. There he found, not an index (for a Skrit Na index appears at the front of a book, and looks so much like a table of contents that an alien might easily mistake it for one), but a collection of Scriptural commentaries by various illustrious Skrit Na exegetes. These, however, mentioned Jesus quite frequently, and Toloth concluded that they would meet his need equally well. With a sigh of satisfaction, he turned back the pages until he came to the beginning of this section, then settled back and began to read afresh.

By the time he had finished the fourth treatise, only his desire not to rouse his shipmates from their dulot was preventing him from screaming aloud. If the Baibul proper had not told him enough about Jesus, the Skrit Na commentators were telling him a good deal too much – and none of it consistent from one author to the next. According to Maliudrip, Jesus was a human into whom God had infused a substance like His own; according to Birnakolless, he was a purely transcendent deity who merely seemed to be living the life of a human; and Ishmapurzel, as near as Toloth could make out, seemed to be saying that Jesus was a human whom God controlled the way a Yeerk controlled a host. Whether any of these was what Teresa believed, Toloth had no idea, but he was fairly certain that she couldn’t possibly believe all of them.

The truth of the matter was that the Great Persecution had done more damage to the Skrit Na race than even the Skrit Na realized. Because of their inbred mistrust of aliens, they were all but incapable of submitting themselves to the guidance of a human teacher; after their 5th-century acquisition of a Constantine Bible, therefore, they had been left to their own devices in interpreting its teachings. As a result, they had, in a little under a thousand years, reinvented every major heresy in Earthly Christian history, as well as a few that their human brethren had never thought of. And, because their desire for concord between the faithful was greater than their desire for doctrinal purity, they cheerfully embraced mutually exclusive interpretations of Scripture with no more mental confusion than came naturally to their species.

Toloth, of course, knew nothing of this, but he saw well enough that neither the unsupplemented Bible, nor the Bible as interpreted by the ancient Skrit Na masters, was going to satisfy Gef Makkil’s desire for saving truth – which left him with precisely the dilemma he had had before. Despite the apparent impossibility of the thing, if he wanted to preserve his chances of ever attaining to the Visserarchy, he would have to speak to Teresa Sickles on Esiln Kalkat. He had no other alternative.

He sighed. Well, he had three days to work out a plan; hopefully he’d be able to come up with something. In the meantime, he needed to get some rest.

With a weary gesture, he slipped the Baibul back into its carrying dimension; then he snuck cautiously back into the guards’ chamber, slipped into his resting-slot between Lissim Seven-One-Three and Inmit Two-Three-One, and joined his fellow Yeerks in dulot.
Last edited by Qoheleth on Wed Aug 03, 2011 6:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Sacred Host

Post by Elfangor » Thu Jul 02, 2009 5:24 pm

Hey Qoheleth I just wanted to say I love this series and the reason I haven't been commenting is because I already read it over on FFN. But thanks so much for writing it!
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To take it



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Re: Sacred Host

Post by Dak-Hamee » Tue Jul 07, 2009 2:16 pm

Qoheleth, I LOVED Sacred Host! Keep it up! Um, can you tell me how to submit my own fanfic? :D
http://browse.deviantart.com/?qh=&secti ... 0#/d23ifgd" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


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Re: Sacred Host

Post by capnnerefir » Thu Jul 09, 2009 8:43 am

Submitting fanfiction is easy. *fondly remembers when he asked this question* Ah...that was nearly a year ago, come to think of it...


Aaaaanyhow, Dak, it's a veyr easy process. Simply create a thread here in the fanfiction board (and probably title the thread with the title of the story). Write out/copy and paste your fic, and post it up! We'll add it to the fanfiction indexory and there you have it.

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Re: Sacred Host

Post by Qoheleth » Fri Jul 10, 2009 12:34 pm

Chapter 12 - Parasites' Eve

In the portion of Jake Berenson's memoirs entitled "The Capture", he records a conversation he had with Temrash One-One-Four of the Sulp Niar pool shortly before the latter's death. According to Berenson, Temrash told him that the ancient Yeerks used innumerable species as hosts, over the course of millennia, before the Gedds evolved. Each of them had their strengths and weaknesses, but all of them provided Yeerks with senses and mobility, and that was the important thing.

Scholars are not yet agreed as to what Temrash was referring to, any more than they are sure about the identity of the "Ssstram" and "Mak" races that he said the Yeerks had conquered. (Indeed, this whole section of Berenson's memoirs is such a puzzle to historians that the human archaeologist Joanna Chude once jokingly suggested that the Animorphs should be prosecuted for killing Temrash One-One-Four. "Here they have someone who can scarcely open his mouth without revealing something that nobody else has ever guessed at, and they just wipe him out to save their own skins. It's like crushing the Rosetta Stone for fear that it contains radon.") Suffice it to say that the Temrashean version of Yeerk antiquity is not the version that Yeerks learn in school – and that, if it were, there would be little point in celebrating the festival of Esiln Kalkat.

For Esiln Kalkat (the words are Yeerkish for "let us acclaim the proto-conqueror") is the commemoration of Jimur Three-Four-Five, the semi-legendary figure who, one day during the mid-cycle of Generation 243 (later renumbered as Generation 1), swam curiously into the ear of a Gedd that had fallen into the deep area of his home pool, and thereby discovered the tremendous gift of which his entire race had hitherto been oblivious. Under his leadership, the Yeerk race conquered and tamed the Gedds, instituted the Council of Thirteen (with Jimur himself serving as the first Emperor), and generally began the transition from a community of intelligent slugs that swam in sulp niar and had a language based on clicks to the ancient and sophisticated civilization that so impressed Seerow-Iskillion-Atamis.

So much is recorded in the Yeerk chronicles, and generally confirmed by independent scholarship. What is less clear is when the idea arose of commemorating his great discovery with a night and a day of unbroken sensual revelry. Many historians, basing their theses on suggestions in certain ancient ballads and engravings, argue that the tradition is nearly as old as Gedd-based civilization itself, but no certain reference to it appears until the early-cycle of Generation 23, when Polip One-Three-Six, who then held the post of Council Member Five, issued a decretal condemning the excesses with which the festival had become intertwined.

"This festivity, known as Esiln Kalkat," she wrote, "was not instituted so that proud Yeerks might become debased through wanton appeasement of their hosts' appetites. Rather, its purpose is to bring them, through an extended immersion in the pleasures of the five senses, to a fuller appreciation of the great privileges that were hidden from our ancestors until the time of Jimur Three-Four-Five, that the reverence due to this great pioneer may never perish from the hearts of the Yeerk people."

It is probably safe to say that few modern Yeerks, even on the Council, think of Esiln Kalkat in quite those terms. Nonetheless, Polip's attitude is still reflected in the traditional air of solemnity that still hangs about the festival, and keeps it from being merely twenty-six hours of music, feasting, exotic baths, and stunning light displays, all tinged with a certain grandiose awareness of the Yeerk race's superiority to all vertebrate life. (Of course, for some aliens, this last is still all that is visible about the event. One of Prince Seerow's lieutenants, upon observing an Esiln Kalkat revel shortly after his arrival on the Yeerk homeworld, expressed his disgust with the practice by dubbing the holiday "Parasites' Eve". This was the first of many words and actions by which Alloran-Semitur-Corrass made himself noxious to the Yeerk people.)

However, the Five Revels – auditory, visual, olfactory, tactile, and gustatory – are still at the heart of the festival, and no Yeerk pool in the galaxy would consider letting the hundred and thirtieth day of the fourteenth year of a generation's mid-cycle pass by without setting up the necessary equipment for all of them. If, therefore, an uninfested alien (an Animorph, perhaps, on a spy mission) had managed to infiltrate Earth's Sulp Niar pool on December 14, 1999, his eyes would have been met by a bewildering sight: a pool nearly empty of Yeerks, all the cages ostentatiously open, a closed-off room from which dazzling flashes of color continually emerged, a swarm of Gedd-Controllers scurrying around on their mismatched legs and offering various elaborate foodstuffs to the other Controllers (who would sometimes take them and eat them, and other times simply inhale their aromas for five or ten minutes), a deafening rendition of something that resembled a Handel concerto for didgeridoo echoing from unseen speakers, and – most striking of all – a number of enormous vats, not much taller than a standing human but nearly a third the length of the pool itself, in which a strange, brownish-yellow substance fizzed and bubbled in a strangely appealing fashion.

And, if he had looked at the far end of one of those vats, he would have seen a young, rather plump human female, with pale skin and light-brown hair, immersing herself in the fizzing substance with an expression of intense pleasure – though he would, of course, have had no way of knowing that he was looking at the future Saint Teresa Sickles.
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Malcar Seven-Four-Five wriggled in the illutilagh bath, the better to make the tiny bubbles tingle against her soft human skin. She was in a state of mind that she rarely achieved, which was not so much a state of perfect serenity (though she herself mistook it for one) as a sort of conscious shelving of all other concerns so as to better enjoy the present moment. Her worries about Teresa's recent missionary activity, her schemes for capturing the boy in Teresa's class who had a crush on her, the nagging cloud of unfocused fear that hangs over every citizen of a police state: these things had not been abolished from her mind, but she was steadfastly refusing to think about them. This was the only day of her life that she would ever get to dedicate to wantonly satisfying the flesh, and she intended to milk it for all it was worth.

She extended a foot and touched her toes to those of her companion in the bath, Elskir Five-Oh-Seven. Elskir Controlled a girl named Kati, who lived just down the street from Teresa, and she and Malcar were, if not exactly friends, at any rate close colleagues and co-conspirators.

"So what do you think, Malcar Seven-Four-Five?" Elskir murmured.

"About what?" said Malcar.

Elskir shrugged. "Life," she said. "Championship Gedd breeding. The true identity of the Andalite terrorists. I'm not really particular, just so long as you're thinking about something."

Malcar smiled. "I didn't know it was important to think on Esiln Kalkat," she said. "I thought you were supposed to turn off your cognitive centers for twenty-four hours and just let your animal side run riot."

"Well, I suppose that's one way to do it," said Elskir, with a touch of austerity that would have won her the thorough approval of Polip One-Three-Six, "but, personally, I've always thought that a pleasure you're not allowed to think about isn't really much of a pleasure at all."

"Well, that's because you're a little intellectual snot," said Malcar.

"And you're a semi-barbaric anachronism," Elskir replied.

"Thank you."

"You're welcome."

The two of them could have gone on like this for some time, had a low, rumbling sound from somewhere above Malcar's head not interrupted their badinage. "Forgive me for intruding," said a voice, "but is one of you Malcar Seven-Four-Five, the Controller of a human named Teresa Sickles?"

Malcar turned and raised her head, and saw an unfamiliar Hork-Bajir-Controller, wearing the tri-colored bands of a member of Sub-Visser One Hundred and Fifty-Three's personal guard, looming over the illutilagh vat. Fighting down the instinctive surge of fear that nearly every Yeerk of this era felt in the presence of a Visserarchical envoy, she replied as calmly as possible, "Yes, that would be me."

The Hork-Bajir-Controller inclined his head. "My name is Lissim Seven-One-Three," he said. "I regret having to interfere with your Kalkat revels, but my duties require me to inform you that you are required to vacate your host and accompany me to the Sub-Visser's Bug fighter. If you refuse to do so, we will have no choice but to arraign you on charges of crimes against the Empire."

"Crimes?" Malcar repeated, trying to ignore the idiotic hammering of Teresa's heart. "What crimes?"

"Treason," said Lissim, "by sympathy with a host species."
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Author's Note: Special thanks to AquaianGoddess for the title of this chapter. Her story "Project: PE01" was one of the first stories I read on Fanfiction.net, and, while I didn't much care for most of it, the phrase "Parasite Eve" has remained with me ever since. It was only a matter of time before it appeared in one of my own stories, albeit in a slightly altered form.
Last edited by Qoheleth on Tue Feb 25, 2014 1:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Sacred Host

Post by Qoheleth » Tue Aug 18, 2009 8:39 am

Chapter 13 - Wheels within Wheels

When the world turns upside down on you, it can sometimes be hard to find an appropriate response. Malcar, on this occasion, did not even try: she merely gaped at the Sub-Visserial guardsman, as the Gauls might have gaped at St. Martin after the miracle of the pine tree, and it was left to Elskir to lodge a hesitant protest.

"Excuse me, Lissim Seven-One-Three," she said, "but I think you must have made a mistake."

"No mistake," said Lissim briefly. "My orders were quite clear: locate Malcar Seven-Four-Five, Controller of the human Teresa Sickles, and bring her to the Sub-Visser for loyalty examination."

"But, see here, Lissim Seven-One-Three," said Elskir, "if you knew Malcar... I mean, the things she's said about her host over the years..."

"I don't recall ever asserting that she was accused of sympathy with her own host," said Lissim.

"What, then?" said Elskir, with a strained attempt at a laugh. "You think she's a closet Taxxon-lover?"

"I neither know nor care in the slightest what she is," said Lissim. "The Sub-Visser did not confide his suspicions to me. He merely expressed his desire for an audience with her, and that audience I intend to provide." And he returned his gaze to Malcar, and fixed her with a stare that compelled obedience.

Malcar swallowed, and nodded. "All right," she said. "I'm ready."

"Good," said Lissim. "In here, please." And he withdrew from his belt a wide, long-necked bottle, the mouth of which was just wide enough for an average-sized Yeerk to slither through.

Malcar blinked. "What?"

"Did you suppose that the Sub-Visser would let you remain in your own host while you were questioned?" said Lissim. "Today, on Esiln Kalkat?" He jerked a clawed thumb toward the pool. "Even with all the immature Gedds being pressed into early use for the festival, there are still over five hundred hostless Yeerks in that pool. Five hundred Yeerks who are missing the only Esiln Kalkat revels that will occur in their lifetimes, simply because we lack sufficient hosts to accommodate them all. Can you explain to me why a suspected criminal should not be expected to forfeit her host body to one of them until her innocence can be satisfactorily demonstrated?"

Put that way, it did seem reasonable. It also eased Malcar's mind on one important point: if the Sub-Visser planned to interrogate her in her hostless state, he was presumably not planning on using the gnielza, or the shrikiigi, or any of the other preferred torture devices of the Visserarchy. All of those required a host body's sophisticated nervous system for the victim to properly appreciate the amount of pain that they inflicted.

"Very well," she said. "Make sure, though, that, once my host is free, she doesn't talk you out of letting your chosen izcot (1) reinfest her. She can be quite insidiously persuasive when she wants to be."

"I thank you for the warning," said Lissim, in a voice that contained no hint of gratitude.

Suitably chastened, Malcar slid herself over and leaned Teresa's ear over the outstretched bottle. There was a brief schluppp sound, and the next moment the puddle of sulp niar at the bottom of the bottle was occupied by the gray, limacine form of Malcar Seven-Four-Five.
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As Teresa came out of the post-infestation paralysis and looked up at the massive Hork-Bajir form towering over her (so like, yet so different from, the Hork-Bajir-Controller to whom she had quoted the Athanasian Creed three days before), her mind was a mass of conflicting emotions. On the one hand, any respite from the soul-wearying overlordship of Malcar Eight-Four-Five was to her a cause for rejoicing, and it pleased her to think that some disadvantaged Yeerk's life might be brightened through her agency – but she was also confused (she understood the accusation of host sympathy even less than Malcar and Elskir did), apprehensive (did she really want a second strange person crawling through her mind?), and, foremost and most simply, afraid. A member of a host species can never be truly comfortable with the prospect of walking around a Yeerk pool uninfested; still less, that of being chaperoned on such a walk by an unfamiliar Hork-Bajir-Controller roughly twice her size.

The Hork-Bajir-Controller in question clicked his tongue. "Gishimk-ith, n'kee," he said. "Aolua uie uyerioa the visual theater."

He was speaking the same linguistic bouillabaisse in which he had delivered the Sub-Visser's summons, but Teresa, unlike Malcar and Elskir, had never been a Hork-Bajir-Controller, and their creole was to her simply a mélange of meaningless words with an occasional English phrase thrown in. She gathered, however, that she was expected to accompany Lissim to the closed-off room at the far end of the pool, where the visual revel was being conducted. (She also gathered, from Lissim's tone, that "n'kee" was not a form of address that one used to one's social equals, but at that moment she was not in a position to take umbrage.)

She sent up a silent prayer for courage and clambered out of the vat of illutilagh, shivering as she did so at the coldness of the subterranean air against her wet skin. She wished that she could have gone back to the small room by the pool entrance where Malcar had left her clothes, so that she could have dried herself off and gotten dressed before going to be reinfested, but she knew better than to ask for that. Even a human-Controller would have been unlikely to grant such a request, and a Hork-Bajir-Controller, whose host had waterproof skin and no concept of clothing, would probably give her a low-powered Dracon beam in the leg for being so presumptuous as to make it.

It was, therefore, a wet, naked, shivering Teresa Sickles whom Limilt led by the shoulder to the visual theater. This, of course, only made her feel more vulnerable, although none of the human- or Hork-Bajir-Controllers they passed paid her the slightest heed. (Several Taxxons, however, did flick their tongues longingly in her direction, as though regretting that so tender and succulent a morsel should be set aside for other purposes. Teresa shuddered, and forced her thoughts in a more constructive direction.)

"Abba, Father, I put my life in Your hands," she whispered. (She had never much cared for David Haas's rendering of Psalm 30, but it seemed appropriate just then.) "In You, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In Your justice rescue me, into Your hands I commend my..."

"Gish'koth!" Lissim barked suddenly.

Teresa blinked. "What?"

"Halt!"

Teresa looked up, and realized that they had reached the door of the visual theater. She must have closed her eyes without realizing it; if Lissim hadn't stopped her, she would have run right into the iron barrier, and probably broken her nose.

And, Heaven knows, the Sub-Visser wouldn't want that, she thought, with a slight reassertion of her native refractoriness. All the cattle must be kept in perfect health, so that the ranchers can properly exploit them. Even an izcot has to have his well-tended pound of flesh to crawl around in.

She was just working herself up into a nice froth of righteous indignation when Lissim reached out and slid the door open, and a sudden, dazzling burst of green light blasted every coherent thought out of her mind. Because of their homeworld's unique nocturnal climate, the Yeerks had never invented fireworks (not that they could have shot off fireworks in the pool in any case); they had had to make do with relatively feeble phosphorescent displays, and, as a result, the tendency of their visual artists throughout history had been to focus on increasing the intensity of a display, rather than bothering about its objective beauty. After a few hundred generations of this, they had reached a point where any visual revel that didn't come within an ace of burning out a host's retinas was considered hopelessly inadequate for Kalkat purposes.

Actually burning out a host's retinas, however, remained as inadvisable as ever, so Teresa's vision returned fairly quickly after the initial shock. She still couldn't see much in the darkened theater, of course, but she could make out the silhouettes of two Hork-Bajir-Controllers (one of whom, judging by his voice, was Lissim) crouching in a corner to her immediate left, whispering to each other in their interplanetary patois. What they were saying, she couldn't begin to guess, although the word "Sub-Visser" was repeated frequently, and at one point Lissim used a Galard phrase that she thought meant something like "You owe me big-time". This seemed to her an odd thing to say to someone you were just turning a host over to, but, before she could spend too much time pondering it, Lissim rose and strode out of the visual theater.

The other Hork-Bajir-Controller turned to her, and grinned. "So, Teresa Sickles," he whispered in English. "We meet again."

Teresa froze. Like most humans, she couldn't tell one Hork-Bajir from another merely by his profile, but she could distinguish their voices – and this particular voice had been burned into her memory over the course of the past week.

"Toloth?" she whispered.
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(1) Izcot: Vaguely contemptuous Yeerkish word for a Yeerk too low-ranking to merit a host.
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Re: Sacred Host

Post by Qoheleth » Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:15 am

Chapter 14 - Initiation

"Yes, Toloth," said the Hork-Bajir-Controller, amused at Teresa's astonishment. "You did not really believe, did you, that your Controller was a traitor to the Yeerk race? I simply decided that our little tri-daily talks ought not to be interrupted by so trivial a thing as Esiln Kalkat, so I looked into the Sulp Niar pool's infestation records, identified the lone Yeerk who Controlled a juvenile human named Teresa – an uncommon name among humans, I gather?"

Teresa shrugged. "There's a bunch of saints called Teresa," she said. "But I guess not many people name their kids after saints anymore."

"Ah," said Toloth. "In any case, once I knew that datum, the rest was fairly simple. Lissim Seven-One-Three and I have long been intimates; once he felt assured that I would repay him for the favor, he had no objection to tormenting an honest human-Controller with accusations of disloyalty. Indeed, I rather fancy that he was delighted by the prospect."

"But... what will you do when your boss finds out?" said Teresa.

"Deny everything," said Toloth, in a tone of complete indifference. "Who is the Sub-Visser more likely to believe: two of his most loyal guards, or some human-Controller who comes to him with a crazy story about being falsely arrested on Esiln Kalkat so that one of those guards could discuss philosophy with her host?"

Teresa thought about that. From a ruthless, amoral, Yeerk perspective, it made sense... except...

"Why are you doing this?" she said.

Toloth stiffened, as though he weren't used to being asked such impertinent questions by a mere vessel of infestation. "I wish to know all I can about the beliefs and attitudes of humans," he said. "It will be a help to me in my future career."

Teresa shook her head. "No," she said. "That's why I thought you were doing it until just now. But now you've gone through this elaborate, dangerous scheme just to make sure that our cycle of 'one talk every three days' isn't interrupted, when, if you wanted to talk to me, all you had to do was hang out by the pool on Tuesday until Malcar came in for her alternate feeding. That's what any sensible person would have done – unless, of course, he was taking orders from some very simple-minded person who couldn't grasp the concept of varying a schedule." She raised her head, and looked straight into the gleaming red eyes above her. "So what I think, Toloth, is that you're doing this because Gef wants you to."

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Toloth's face remained impassive, but inwardly he winced. Perhaps he wasn't as safe as he had thought, if he could be seen through so easily. Or did the girl just have some uncanny ability to read people's hearts? She didn't seem like the type – but he was beginning to suspect that Teresa Sickles was many things she didn't seem.

"Very well," he said, with a great effort. "Suppose that to be so. What then?"

He expected Teresa to capitalize on her advantage and find out how Gef had gained such power over him, perhaps with a view to exerting a similar influence on her own Controller. Her next question, consequently, came as a complete surprise to him. "Why is Gef so interested in Christian theology?" she asked.

Toloth snorted, partly in relief and partly in derision. "Heaven alone knows," he said, using one of the few colloquialisms common to English and Yeerkish. "If his thoughts are any indication, even he does not fully understand his fascination with you. All he knows is that you 'have knowledge of beginning things' – and, because of this, he is willing to follow you to the ends of the galaxy."

"Wait a minute," said Teresa, in an altered tone. "You mean that he believes what I've been telling you about Jesus?"

"So he says," said Toloth.

"In that case," said Teresa, "may I speak with him?"

This was much more the sort of thing Toloth had expected from her two exchanges ago; coming as it did now, however, it caught him completely off guard for the second time in less than a minute. "Why?"

"If he really believes in Jesus, there's something the two of us need to do together," said Teresa. "Usually a priest would do it with him, but in extraordinary circumstances any Christian can."

"I see," said Toloth. "And do you need me to leave Gef's body in order to do this, or will simply ceding control to him be enough?"

Teresa thought for a moment. "I don't see any reason why you'd need to leave his body," she said. "So long as he can respond when I ask him questions, that's all that really matters."

"You are most generous," said Toloth dryly.

"I try," said Teresa with a smile. "So is it a deal?"

Toloth had long since passed the point where he could have said "No". With a sigh, he disconnected his palps from the neurons controlling Gef's autonomous functions, and sank back into the darkness of the Hork-Bajir skull.
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As Teresa watched Gef slowly reclaim the use of his body, it crossed her mind to wonder where she had gotten such unwonted boldness from. Only a week before, she would never have dreamed of asking a Yeerk warrior to step aside and let his host take over, no matter how important it might have been to the host's soul. (She wondered if this was how Peter had felt, when he had witnessed before the Sanhedrin.)

"Are you ready yet?" she said softly.

"Yes," murmured Gef, in a tone of wonder. "I am free."

"Good," said Teresa. "Now I'm going to make a series of statements, and you're going to tell me whether you believe them or not. All right?"

Gef nodded.

"Okay," said Teresa. "There is one God, who made the universe and everything in it: Mother Sky, Father Deep, and everything else, even the things that can't be seen or touched. He can do anything he wants, and His relation to you is that of a father to his child. Do you believe that?"

Gefs enormous head lowered and rose. "If Teresa say, Gef believe," he said.

Teresa frowned. "Gef, it's not what I say that's important," she said sternly. "It's what Jesus says. I could change my mind tomorrow and decide that the Yeerk sun-god was the real creator of the universe, but that wouldn't change what was true."

Gef seemed puzzled by her objection. "Gef believe Teresa now," he said, "not Teresa tomorrow."

There was a moment's silence (save for the hum of the phosphor-screen in the background) while the shrewdness of that simple statement penetrated Teresa's brain; then the young evangelist laughed. "Touché," she said. "Okay, then, so there's one God. And He has a son named Jesus, who is just as much God as God the Father is, and who helped Him to create everything." (She could almost hear the Nicene Fathers groaning in pain at that bowdlerization of their Creed, but she didn't think that the more theologically precise version would be any use to Gef.) "In order to heal the sickness of sin in us, He became a human and died by torture – but He came back to life again on the third day after his death, and went back to His Father about forty days after that. When the universe is finished, He'll come back a second time to reward or punish everyone who ever lived, and to be honored forever the way you would honor a seer. Do you believe all that?"

"Gef believe," said the Hork-Bajir.

"Okay. And there's a third Person, the Holy Spirit, who comes from the Father and Jesus and is God just like they are, and who made certain people in history able to see that Jesus would come someday. Do you believe that?"

"Gef believe."

"Okay. Now, when Jesus was living on Earth as a human, He gave some of His power to certain humans, and told them to tell as many people as they could about Him. Those humans, and the people they told – and the people they told, and so on and so on – are all part of a huge, sacred family that can never be broken apart, and that anyone in the universe can join. Do you believe that?"

"This is what Teresa is part of?" said Gef.

Teresa nodded. "And what you'll be part of in a few minutes," she said. "But first you have to tell me that you believe in it."

The eight-foot catechumen smiled. "Gef believe."

"Okay. And do you believe that the process that makes you part of this family takes away all the bad things you've ever done, so that nothing stands between you and God anymore?"

"Gef believe."

"Do you believe that people who have died, if they are part of this family, can still know and love each other, as well as the people who are still living?"

"Gef believe."

"Do you believe that, when Jesus comes back at the end of time, everyone who ever died will come back to life again, and the universe itself will be made over again into something more wonderful than anyone can imagine?"

"Gef believe."

Teresa took a deep breath. "Okay," she said. "There's just one more thing. There is in this world a being of great cunning and malevolence, who, though you'll probably never be able to see him, will always be trying to get you to do evil and separate yourself from God. Do you..."

"Gef believe."

Teresa bit her lip to keep from laughing. "Okay, that's good," she said, "but it wasn't what I was about to ask. What I was going to say was, do you promise, when you realize that this being is making you want to do something, not to do it no matter how good it looks, or how dangerous it seems not to do it?"

Gef hesitated. "How Gef know when wanting come from evil one?"

"Usually, the thing you want to do will be something that God has said not to do," said Teresa. "Hating Yeerks, for instance. If you're not sure, you can..." She hesitated; ordinarily, she would have ended that sentence with "ask someone with more experience", but, in Gef's case, he wouldn't be in charge of his body most of the time, which would make seeking out spiritual counsel a difficult task.

"Ask Jesus?" Gef suggested.

For the second time during their conversation, Teresa was struck by the subtlety hidden inside that simple Hork-Bajir mind. "Yes," she said. "Ask Jesus. Can you do that?"

Gef nodded.

"All right, then," said Teresa. "Bend down."

Gef seemed surprised by this unexpected command, but obediently crouched down on his hands and knees with his head to the ground, looking something like a dragon dormant out of medieval heraldry. Teresa took her long, light-brown hair (still wet with the moisture of the illutilagh bath) in her hands and held it out over Gef's head; she squeezed it gently, and little rivulets of water ran out of it and splattered over Gef's horns.

"Gef Makkil," Teresa whispered, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen."

She withdrew her hair and draped it back over her shoulder again, and Gef raised his head with wonder in his eyes. "Gef believes now?" he said. "Gef is new creation?"

Teresa nodded, and nearly laughed aloud from sheer happiness. "Yes," she said. "Gef is new creation."

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Re: Sacred Host

Post by Qoheleth » Tue Nov 17, 2009 7:42 am

Chapter 15 - The Crux of the Matter

Gef seemed mildly nonplussed by the simplicity of his rebirth. He looked down at his wrist-blades and began waving them back and forth, as though expecting the seal of God to appear on them. "Gef not feel different," he said.

"No, you won't," said Teresa. "At least not for a while. The baptism changed your soul, but it left your body the same as before – unless maybe it made it able to rise again, but that's not something that you can feel. Eventually, though, if you keep remembering that you have Jesus's life in you instead of your own, and do everything with that in mind, it'll be obvious that you've changed – not to you, maybe, but to other people."

"Even to Toloth Two-Nine-Four?" said Gef.

"Especially to him, I would think," said Teresa. "If the change is really permanent, it'll affect your thoughts more than anything else, and Toloth ought to catch on to that pretty quickly. And speaking of Toloth, you should probably let him know that we're done out here, so he can... you know..."

She trailed off, unwilling to actually say what she knew Gef had to do. Gef, however, surprised her by nodding and saying it himself. "Yes," he said. "Gef must be host to Toloth now, so Teresa can teach Toloth about Jesus."

"Exactly," said Teresa. "Do you think you can do that?"

"He already has," said Gef's voice, and Teresa jumped slightly. After three years as a host, she still hadn't gotten used to the way Yeerks could reclaim a host's body without apparent effort.

"Um... hello, Toloth," she said.
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"Hello, Teresa," said Toloth, with mocking courtesy in his tone. "So you have made my host fit for your god, have you?"

"That was the idea," said Teresa.

"Odd that you should feel the need to bother," said Toloth. "I somehow doubt that a Hork-Bajir could contribute much to this elegant philosophical edifice of yours."

"It's not really about that," said Teresa. "The philosophy's important, but it's secondary. What we're really about is making sure that people go to Heaven."

Toloth cocked his head. "To other worlds, you mean?" It was a natural enough motivation for a primitive religion, but it seemed out of character for this one – and, besides, if a large number of humans had a religious impulse to go to other planets, surely the Empire could make a Taxxon-style deal with them instead of bothering with surreptitious conquest.

Teresa shook her head. "Not in the sense that you mean, no," she said. "When a Christian uses it, 'Heaven' doesn't mean the sky; it means the place beyond space and time, where the righteous go when they die to be with Jesus forever."

"Ah," said Toloth, a touch of condescension creeping into his voice. "Like the gardens of Mother Sky, where venerable Hork-Bajir feast on the sweet bark of the sun and moon."

Teresa shrugged. "If you like, yeah."

"I see," said Toloth. "And what must one do to attain this privileged realm?"

"Well, it's not really a question of what we do," said Teresa. "Left to our own devices, we can't get within shouting distance of Heaven. That's why Jesus had to die."

Toloth blinked. "Had to what?"

"Die," said Teresa. "Weren't you listening when I told Gef about that?"

Toloth frowned, and examined Gef's recent memories. Yes, the girl had made some reference to Jesus's death by torture, but it had been too brief to make a real impression on him. He said as much, and Teresa let out a self-chastising laugh. "Shows you what kind of apologist I am," she said. "The most important article in the Creed, and I just skim right over it."

"Well, then," said Toloth, "perhaps you would care to elaborate on it now?"

"I suppose I ought to," said Teresa. "You remember how I said that Jesus entered into the womb of a girl named Mary and became a human?"

"I do."

"Well, when He grew up, He gathered a bunch of disciples together and began teaching people about God: what He was, what He did, what He wanted them to be, that sort of thing. But he also talked about Himself: how He was God, and how all the prophets had known about Him, and how you had to participate in His life if you wanted to have any credit with God. That didn't make the ordinary religious leaders very happy – especially when He started talking about how pathetically corrupt those religious leaders were, with their tricky ways of distorting God's law to circumvent the demands of justice. So they paid one of his disciples to betray him, trumped up a pseudo-trial, and persuaded the local representative of the empire that ruled them to have Him executed by slow strangulation."

Toloth nodded judiciously, as though this were the best that could be expected under the circumstances. "Yes, I see," he said. "But, being a god, of course he returned to life eventually?"

"Two days later," said Teresa. "A couple women coming to tend to the body were the first to see Him, but, by the time he went back to Heaven about a month later, there were a couple hundred people who had."

"Ah," said Toloth. "Well, it is a pleasant enough story, but I don't quite see why you should consider it unusually important. Surely you have tales of Jesus doing many other equally striking things..."

"Oh, sure, He performed a bunch of other miracles," said Teresa. "Still does, for that matter. But the Resurrection was the important one, because that was the reason He came to Earth in the first place."

Toloth cocked his head. "So he could die?"

"So he could save us from our sins," said Teresa. "Remember what I said three days ago? Sin brings death; you can't get around that. If a sel-whatever-that-word-was... a person who dominates his planet..."

"Sellith," said Toloth.

"Right, that. If a sellith is sinful, he has to die. But if the sellith is also God, then He's stronger than sin or death: He can take not just one person's sin, but the sins of everyone in the universe, and bury them in His own grave, then come back out of that grave and start living all over again. And that's what Jesus did."

It was a poor explanation, she knew. If she had been St. Paul or somebody, she could have done infinitely better. But, however inadequate it was, it seemed to have conveyed the appropriate ideas to Toloth, who leaned back on his haunches and made a thoughtful-sounding rumbling noise deep in his chest cavity. "So the ritual that you performed with my host just now," he said, "would be a way of letting him participate in this death of Jesus's, so that he can 'start living all over again' himself?"

"That's the basic idea," Teresa confirmed.

"I see," said Toloth. "Well, I shall have to remember all this. Perhaps someday, if I ever get tired of my own life, I can come have you pour water over me and start a new one."

He was being flippant, Teresa knew, but she felt a shiver run down her spine anyway. For all her joy at Gef's conversion, she still wasn't used to the notion of baptizing aliens, and the suggestion that a Yeerk, of all beings, might someday come asking her for the water of salvation was both thrilling and disturbing at the same time. Of course, it would never really happen, but still...

"Yeah," she said with a slight smile. "Yeah, maybe you can."

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Re: Sacred Host

Post by Luna May » Sun Nov 22, 2009 12:36 pm

*huggles fic fondly*
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Avv © Culpeo-Fox

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*hi fives Blu*

Isn't quite sure how I feel about anything at the moment.