Sacred Host

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Dak-Hamee
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Re: Sacred Host

Post by Dak-Hamee » Tue Dec 08, 2009 6:11 pm

*Is lovin this. Just got back in the habit of readin' fanfic. Must leave for another month now.*

SEE YOU AT CHRISTMAS WHEN I GET MY OWN INTERNET!!!!!! :D :hi:
http://browse.deviantart.com/?qh=&secti ... 0#/d23ifgd" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


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Re: Sacred Host

Post by Luna May » Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:17 am

SEE YOU SOON DAK! *HUGZ*
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*hi fives Blu*

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Re: Sacred Host

Post by Qoheleth » Sun Dec 13, 2009 5:58 pm

Chapter 16 - A Corporal Work of Mercy

Toloth, at this point, glanced up at the blazing phosphor-screen and frowned. "Beams of Kandrona, have we been here that long?" he muttered. (Teresa had no idea how he could tell time from the visual revel – unless maybe this was some famous composition that he had seen a hundred times, and knew the exact intervals between any two bits of it.) "I will be missed fairly soon if I don't get moving."

"So you're going to return me to Malcar now?" said Teresa, trying to keep her voice free of any note of disappointment. After all, she had known it was going to happen eventually, and if Gef could have a good attitude about being re-Controlled, surely she ought to be able to do the same.

"It would seem so," said Toloth. "Unless there is something else you feel it important to tell me about your religion."

Teresa shook her head. "No, that's probably enough for one day," she said. "I suppose you can..." Then a thought struck her. "Oh, wait a minute!"

"Yes?" said Toloth.

"What about the other Yeerk?"

Toloth blinked. "What other Yeerk?"

"The one in the pool," said Teresa. "The one who didn't have a host body, and was going to infest me so he didn't miss Esiln Kalkat."

Toloth stared at her. "Teresa Sickles," he said, "do you not understand the concept of a ruse? Nothing Lissim told your Controller was true. You were not brought here to play host to an izcot; you were brought here to appease Gef, so that he didn't get himself killed trying to meet with you."

"Yes, I know that," said Teresa impatiently. "But that doesn't mean the other is a bad idea, does it? I mean, he was right about there being a whole bunch of Yeerks still in the pool who are missing this big, important, once-in-a-lifetime holiday; if I'm not being used by anybody at the moment, don't I sort of have an obligation to help one of them out?"

Slowly, Toloth wrapped his mind around this idea. "Do you mean to say," he said, "that you are volunteering to let yourself be infested, solely to gratify someone about whom you know nothing save that it is a member of the race attempting to subjugate your planet?"

"Basically, yeah," said Teresa.

Christian charity can be an unsettling thing to one unused to it. For a moment, Toloth couldn't quite bring himself to believe that Teresa actually meant what she was saying – just as, perhaps, the guards at Auschwitz did when confronted with Maximilian Kolbe.

Next moment, however, he rallied. Why, he asked himself reasonably, should he continue to let anything that Teresa Sickles did surprise him? The trick to handling this creature was to recognize that she might do absolutely anything, and roll with the punches wherever possible – and he certainly couldn't think of any reason why he ought not to let her be randomly infested, if she wished it. True, her Controller probably wouldn't approve (most Controllers didn't like the notion of other Yeerks infesting their hosts, since there were so many things one's host knew that one didn't want becoming public knowledge), but, as he had said to Teresa earlier, he cared not a straw for anything Malcar Eight-Four-Five might do to him.

"Very well," he said. "But you must be quick about it: five minutes, no more."

He rose and strode from the visual theater, and returned in a minute or two with a bowl from the pool kitchens, in which a smallish Yeerk was swimming about frantically in a small puddle of sulp niar.

"Stupid thing," he muttered. "Can't it tell when a person is trying to do it a favor?" Brusquely, he grabbed his co-racialist with one hand, held Teresa's head still with the other, and smashed the hostless Yeerk against her left ear.
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The sensation of being infested by a Yeerk is never a pleasant one, even when it is done, as it ought to be, with the head immersed in sulp niar so that the infesting Yeerk can swim in freely. When the Yeerk is being squashed against the side of your head by a member of the Imperial military, and is wriggling its palps across your temple in a frantic effort to find your auditory canal before it dies of desiccation, the process is that much less comfortable. Teresa felt her stomach beginning to lurch, and she clapped her right hand over her mouth before she could embarrass herself all over Toloth's feet.

It seemed an interminable length of time (though it was really only about twenty seconds) before the Yeerk managed to locate her ear, and she felt the familiar stiffness of the infestation paralysis as it slithered into her brain. She waited until it had plugged itself into her cerebral cortex, and then thought, <Hello.>

She could feel the Yeerk start: evidently it hadn't expected to be addressed in this way. <Um... hello,> it said. <Are you my new host?>

<Well, not really,> said Teresa. <I'm already taken, unfortunately. But my Controller's busy right now, so we decided to let you have a spin. It's all there in my memories, if you want to check.>

<Oh,> the Yeerk murmured, dazed. <Okay, then.>

<I'm Teresa, by the way,> Teresa added – superfluously, of course, since this was also in her memories, but it seemed the polite thing to do.

<Oliss,> said the Yeerk. <Oliss Three-Eight-Three.>

<Mucho gusto,> said Teresa amiably, using one of two phrases she remembered from her fifth-grade Spanish class.

Oliss didn't bother to respond with the other. It (since Yeerks derive their gender identities from their hosts, a hostless Yeerk cannot properly be called "he" or "she") had accessed Teresa's memories, and was now staring dumbstruck at the series of events that had led to its being permitted to join in the Esiln Kalkat revels. It saw Teresa's first, impulsive word to Gef those two weeks before; it saw the three discussions with Toloth that had resulted therefrom; it saw Toloth and Lissim's elaborate scheme to arrange a fourth discussion; and, most astonishing of all, it saw Teresa's request to be given to it so that it might know, however briefly, the glories of Esiln Kalkat.

It also – not incidentally – saw all of Teresa's earlier life history: how she had been lured into the Yeerk pool by a Sharing official who had addressed her church's youth group, how she had passed through two Controllers' hands (so to speak) before being given officially to Malcar Eight-Four-Five, and all the petty cruelties that had made up her life ever since. It was not merely Teresa's uncomplaining submissiveness that impressed Oliss (though of course Oliss, like any Yeerk, could well admire stoic fortitude when it saw it); what amazed it was the notion that this human, who had been so badly hurt by the Yeerk race, still found it possible – indeed, necessary – to be kind to Yeerks when she could.

It was still trying to assimilate this thought when it felt Toloth nudge Teresa's – its – arm. "Well, shapluk (2)," he said, "do you intend to spend your few minutes of Kalkat staring at a darkened floor?"

Oliss roused itself. Yes, that was right, it had a revel to partake of. It could worry about Teresa Sickles's uncanny selflessness when it was back in the pool.

Slowly, hesitantly, it raised Teresa's head and turned her eyes toward the phosphor-screen – and then its breath caught in Teresa's throat.

Nor was this surprising. Teresa's surmise earlier had been correct: the visual revel at the Sulp Niar pool that day was indeed a classic of Yeerk phosphoric art. It was, in fact, Kakkana One-Five-Three's Vanarx Tulest ("Flouter of Yeerkbanes"), composed in the early-cycle of Generation 79 to commemorate the demise of the great vanarx hunter Jagag Three-Prime. Sub-Visser One Hundred and Fifty-Three had selected this magnificent panegyric partly so that its air of proud defiance, as well as its celebration of Yeerk valor and cunning, might serve as a warning to any Andalite bandits who might be prowling around, but also because, being so ancient a piece, it belonged to an era when beauty still mattered on the phosphor-screen. (For Sub-Visser One Hundred and Fifty-Three, as the reader may have surmised from his concern for the illutilagh three days before, fancied himself something of an Arbiter of Elegance as well as a great statesman – though, in point of fact, he was not tremendously gifted in either role.) Its finale, in particular – that stunning cascade of violet, green, and crimson – is one of the finest moments in Yeerk art, prompting one human critic to observe that "you walk away from Vanarx Tulest blinded with tears, whereas you walk away from most other Yeerk phosphor-shows simply blind".

It was this finale that Oliss now beheld – though, of course, it was not the same finale of Vanarx Tulest that an expert in phosphoric art would have seen. Oliss knew nothing of the deeper significance, the somber sense of loss intertwined with a consciousness of ultimate victory, that so delighted the sympathetic aesthete. All it saw was a phantasmagoria of stunningly vivid colors fluctuating across a screen in highly complex geometric patterns – but, to a being who had never seen anything at all before except the inside of the Yeerk pool's host-training room (and that for only a few minutes, and with Gedd eyes), that was enough. Oliss had never suspected that the universe contained such beauty, and for nearly five minutes it sat motionless, gazing on the phosphor-screen with insatiable awe.

It might have stared (if the program had lasted so long) for five hours more, if it hadn't received a sharp poke in Teresa's ribs. "All right, shapluk, that's enough," said Toloth. "The revel will be over in a few minutes, and we don't want anyone asking awkward questions." And he held the bowl underneath Teresa's ear.

Oliss flirted with the notion of ignoring him, but then realized that it didn't know whether it would be implicated should Toloth's impropriety come to light. All things considered, perhaps it was better off following his instructions.

With a sigh, it released Teresa's neurons and slipped out of her mind – but, before it did so, it sent one last message to her. It was aware that saying anything of the sort to a host made it a bad Yeerk, but it would have felt worse if it had let it go unsaid.

<Thank you.>

<You're welcome.>
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(2) A Yeerkish form of address to a social inferior, roughly equivalent to the English "sirrah".
Last edited by Qoheleth on Tue May 03, 2011 4:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Sacred Host

Post by Luna May » Sun Dec 13, 2009 6:43 pm

Awwwwww! ^^
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Re: Sacred Host

Post by Dak-Hamee » Wed Dec 16, 2009 4:25 pm

No! This CAN't be over! Let it continue! THIS IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!

GO OLISS! YOU SHOULD HAVE CHECK OUT THAT TUB!
http://browse.deviantart.com/?qh=&secti ... 0#/d23ifgd" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


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Re: Sacred Host

Post by Ben_Dover » Thu Mar 25, 2010 10:56 pm

Great fic! I am loving it, even though I am an atheist, which is a strong testament to your writing skill. Good job :)
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Re: Sacred Host

Post by Qoheleth » Tue Mar 30, 2010 1:04 pm

Chapter 17 - Quick and Powerful

As Toloth and Teresa slipped out of the visual theater amid the crowd of departing revelers, Toloth caught sight of Lissim Seven-One-Three standing beside one of the empty cages, munching on a chunk of pine bark thickly coated with resin and spices. With remarkable deftness for a being so large and blade-covered, he extricated himself and Teresa from the crowd and went over to his comrade-in-arms.

Lissim glanced up as the two of them approached. "Is it time, Toloth?" he said.

"It is," said Toloth. "You have the human's Controller?"

For answer, Lissim reached a hand into the cage and pulled out the flask containing Malcar Eight-Four-Five. "I didn't think it was a good idea to be carrying it around," he said. "Someone might start asking awkward questions."

Toloth nodded his approval. "Return her," he said.

Lissim took Teresa's head in his hands (his touch was gentler than Toloth's had been, and subtly more impersonal) and pressed the mouth of the flask to her ear. Malcar squirmed forward, squeezing herself through the flask's narrow neck, and for the second time in less than fifteen minutes Teresa felt the touch of a Yeerk's palps against her ear. From the standpoint of physical comfort, it was a drastic improvement on her last infestation, but Oliss Three-Eight-Three had made almost as deep an impression on Teresa as Teresa had made on Oliss: she remembered the touch of that diffident, innocent, almost humble mind, and she realized that she couldn't bear returning to Malcar Eight-Four-Five's control after that.

"No," she cried. "No, wait... Toloth, please..."

Then the infestation paralysis set in, and she said no more.
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Malcar Eight-Four-Five was fit to be tied. For nearly an hour, as Esiln Kalkat had raged about her, she had sat in Lissim's flask, waiting to be interrogated. At first she had been terrified, but, as time went by and nothing happened except the occasional shifting of the flask (and even that had ceased after fifteen minutes or so), her fear had given way to annoyance. What was the Sub-Visser waiting for? If he wanted to find out where she had been on the morning of the 14th, why didn't he plug her into the shirak-board and get it over with? And if not, why didn't he put her back in Teresa and let her get on with her one day of sensory abandon?

Then, just as her ire had reached boiling point, she felt the flask rise into the air and tilt forward, and her olfactory palps picked up the unmistakable scent of her host. Without a second's hesitation, she slithered toward Teresa's ear, anxious to have a mouth again so she could start chewing somebody out.

When she plugged herself into Teresa's brain, however, she was caught off guard by the sudden influx of grief that hit her. She was accustomed to a fairly broad range of emotions from Teresa during reinfestation – tension, surliness, obnoxiously serene acceptance – but she wasn't used to having her blubber like the Madonna of Syracuse. If Malcar hadn't known better, she would have thought her host had just lost her best friend.

<Oh, for pity's sake, Posy, stop bawling,> she snapped, using Teresa's hated childhood nickname in hopes that this would irritate her into silence. <I don't know what they've been doing to you, but it can't be that bad.>

But this only seemed to make matters worse. Her host seemed to be caught in a vicious cycle: the very act of trying to pull herself together made her think of what Malcar would do if she didn't, which seemed to be the trigger for another attack of uncontrollable mental sobs. Malcar, bewildered, decided that the safest thing to do was just tune her out and focus on the routine tasks of regaining muscular control and checking recent memories.

It was this latter, of course, that proved to be the shocker. Malcar, despite her very real fears that the rise of Christianity would mean the downfall of the Yeerk Empire, had managed, over the course of the past couple weeks, to convince herself that Toloth Two-Nine-Four's regular interrogations of her host on the subject were of no particular importance. In part, this was simply because she didn't want to seek an audience with the Sub-Visser unless she absolutely had to (which, given the nature of the Visserarchy at this time, was only sensible), but there was also a stubborn streak of Yeerk parochialism in her, which made it all but impossible for her to believe that so anthropocentric a religion as Christianity could ever make serious inroads among the various races of the Imperial dominion. Now, however, as she scanned Teresa's perceptions of the past hour, she concluded with horror that she had been far too sanguine.

She saw Toloth's admission of subservience to his host's desires, and that appalled her. She saw Oliss's fascinated wonder at Teresa's sense of charity, and that unnerved her. But what truly terrified her was the simplest image of all: Gef Makkil crouching on the floor of the visual theater like a dragon dormant, and Teresa holding her hair over him and squeezing out its moisture onto his head. She knew what that meant; she knew what it could do if left unchecked.

She raised her head and stared into her abductor's Hork-Bajir eyes. "What have you done, Toloth Two-Nine-Four?" she whispered.
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Toloth, secure in his certainty that the ninth-century peon before him could do him no harm, permitted himself a smirk. "You have, I think, full access to your host's recent memories, Malcar Eight-Four-Five," he said. "In which case, you know quite well what I have done."

"Yes," said Malcar in a strange tone. "But do you know what you have done, Toloth Two-Nine-Four?"

Toloth frowned, but did not reply.

"I will tell you what you have done," Malcar continued. "You have permitted my host to make that Hork-Bajir you wear an initiate in the mysteries of her religion. Which is to say, you have unleashed an ideological pestilence that may well corrupt the very heart of the Empire before it runs its course."

At this, Toloth laughed aloud. "My dear base-born pool-mate," he said, "I think you have been infesting Teresa Sickles longer than is good for you. I know that some Andalite thinkers like to discuss the prevalence of certain ideas on the model of the spread of pathogens, but I had thought that the Yeerk intellect was beyond such tedious fallacies."

"Oh?" said Malcar. "You think the comparison fallacious, do you?"

"Self-evidently so," said Toloth. "Disease germs proliferate through cellular reproduction, and they infect an organism by feeding on it in some fashion. In other words, their potency is due to the fact that they are living things. Now, an idea may be a powerful thing, but it is not living."

Malcar stared darkly at him for a long moment; then she said, softly, "This one is."

Toloth glanced at Lissim, and the two soldiers burst into loud guffaws, startling a passing Gedd-Controller. Despite their confidence in their influence with the Sub-Visser, both of them had had a lingering suspicion that Malcar Eight-Four-Five might prove a more formidable adversary than they had counted upon. To find that she was clearly mad was not only a marvelous joke, but a great relief as well.

"Laugh if you will, Toloth Two-Nine-Four," said Malcar, raising her voice, "but I have Controlled this host for three years, and I have seen and heard things that would make Visser Three himself fear this thing the humans call Christianity. It is a subtle, sinister poison; it paints itself as mild, innocent, even friendly to one's own aims, until a person welcomes it into his mind – and then it changes him so dramatically that his own siblings would not know him.

"It has toppled empires before now. When the current Visser One first arrived on this planet, there was a state called the Soviet Union that controlled more territory than any other on Earth. For nearly three-quarters of a century it had been one of the most feared and respected players in the human game of nations, swallowing dozens of other states and turning dozens more into tools to do its will – and yet, when Edriss Five-Six-Two arrived, it was in its death throes. And would you like to know why, Toloth Two-Nine-Four? Would you like to know what the spirit was that made the subject peoples of the Soviet Union itch to topple their masters, and that all the forces of that globe-bestriding power could not ultimately keep at bay? I will tell you. It was the same spirit that you have let Teresa instill in your host.

"Nor was this an isolated incident. The whole history of the Christian Church is studded with similar events: with friends of kings who, upon being entrusted with authority in the Church, have turned into their enemies; with emperors who have repented of their statecraft when threatened with endless perdition; with girls little older than Teresa who have turned the tides of wars, believing themselves to be acting on messages from angels. Mere theories, however elegant or compelling they may be, do not inspire this kind of behavior.

"Yes, Toloth Two-Nine-Four, Christianity is a living thing."

Toloth waved a hand and nodded indulgently. "Yes, yes, of course, Malcar Eight-Four-Five," he said. "But, all the same, I think it unlikely that Gef Makkil will be able to duplicate those extraordinary feats you describe." And he turned and walked away without waiting for a reply, and Lissim, after a moment's hesitation, followed behind him.

Malcar stared after their retreating tails. "Let us hope not, Toloth Two-Nine-Four," she whispered. "For the sake of the Empire, let us hope not."

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Re: Sacred Host

Post by Qoheleth » Tue May 25, 2010 9:12 am

Chapter 18 - Three Types of Unbelief

"Tell me, Toloth Two-Nine-Four," said Lissim as the two guards made their way back to the Sub-Visser's private reveling area, "just what is this human idea that Malcar Seven-Four-Five believes to be so dangerously vital?"

Toloth turned and looked sharply at his colleague, all his wits suddenly awake. Was Lissim attempting to locate a weakness in him, with an eye toward eliminating an inconveniently ambitious fellow-guardsman? But Lissim's expression betrayed only mild inquisitiveness, and Toloth decided it would be best to answer the question with a minimum of fuss – and, of course, without revealing the slightest interest of his own.

"Oh, you know," he said, waving a vague claw. "One of those curious mythical systems that host species are so prone to develop. As near as I can make out, it asserts that the Maker of the Universe became a human some two thousand Earthly years ago, got himself killed by his fellow humans, and then came back to life again. Apparently this is supposed to give the humans who believe in him some special form of life themselves."

Lissim blinked, absorbing this. "What a strange idea," he said. "Is this god-human supposed to be still walking around Earth somewhere, then?"

Toloth shrugged. "Malcar's host did not discuss what happened to him after his revival," he said. "Perhaps he returned to the place beyond space and time where she says he lives – that 'Heaven' that is not the sky."

Lissim shook his head. "Humans," he said. "Mad, the lot of them. Just like their Controllers."

Toloth nodded. "Doubtless it is due to the intensity of human sense perceptions," he said. "They cannot properly sort through the cascades of phenomena that assail them; consequently their outlook becomes warped, and they begin to develop the most extraordinary notions."

"I dare say," said Lissim.

They then turned the conversation to other subjects, and, by the time they reunited with the Sub-Visser and their fellow guards, they had put Jesus and Malcar Seven-Four-Five entirely out of their minds.
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Elskir Five-Oh-Seven had just gotten out of the illutilagh bath, and was drying herself off in the pool antechamber when Malcar came in, wearing a truly extraordinary expression on Teresa's face. It wasn't at all the way Elskir would have imagined someone looking who had just been interrogated by Sub-Visser One Hundred and Fifty-Three; it was more like the expression of someone who had just been informed that the Yeerk race would be exterminated in twenty-seven hours unless she could retrieve the Mystic Pearls of Thrishalaak from the bottom of the Uret Sea.

Elskir coughed uncertainly. "Er... welcome back, Malcar Seven-Four-Five," she said. "So the Sub-Visser let you off, did he?"

"Not precisely," said Malcar.

Elskir waited for some amplification of this remark, but for a while Malcar seemed ill-disposed to say anything more. It wasn't until she had dried herself off, put on Teresa's clothes, and spent a minute or so staring intensely at the antechamber wall, that she turned abruptly to her companion and said, "Tell me, Elskir Five-Oh-Seven, what do you know about Christianity?"

Elskir blinked. "Um not much, really," she said. "Kati hasn't been in a church since –" (she did a quick check of her host's memories) "– her aunt's wedding in 1994."

<Poor thing,> said Teresa inside Malcar's mind.

Malcar ignored her. "Well, permit me to inform you," she said, "that it is a pernicious and repellent system, totally opposed to any reasonable notion of a powerful and dynamic society – and that Teresa is trying to persuade a member of the Sub-Visser's guard to subscribe to it."

Elskir stared for a moment, then laughed aloud. "You mean that's what all that rubbish about treason by sympathy with a host species was about?" she said. "The old Ishlok-of-the-Hills routine? (3) Oh, that's priceless."

"No, it isn't," said Malcar, nettled. "It's appalling. If he's going to these lengths just to get me out of Teresa's body, things have already progressed well beyond the danger point. She's already snared his host; it's only a matter of time before she gets the Yeerk himself."

"Well, and what if he does?" said Elskir. "If the Sub-Visser's man-at-arms thinks it would be fun to say a rosary once in a while, why not let him? It's not as though he'd be the first crackpot our race has ever..." She saw the expression in Malcar's eyes, and trailed off. "Well, maybe not."

"Thank you," said Malcar.

"So what are you going to do?" said Elskir. "Malthalamize(4) her until she agrees not to talk to this guy anymore?"

Malcar shook her head with a sigh. "No, that wouldn't work," she said. "You don't know these Christians. Pain – their own pain, I mean – just encourages them. They thank their God for allowing them to suffer persecution for the sake of the Name, and then they keep on doing what they were doing, only that much more enthusiastically."

"Oh," said Elskir. "So the only way to stop them is to convince them that God doesn't want them doing whatever it is."

Malcar looked up sharply at her. "Do you know, Elskir, that's not a bad idea," she said. "I wonder..."

She pondered for a moment, then said, abruptly, "Thanks, Elskir. I won't forget this," and strode out of the antechamber, leaving Elskir to wonder what sort of scheme she had just inspired.
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The Yeerk pool was alive with the clicks and whistles of Yeerk speech when Oliss Three-Eight-Three was slipped back into it. To an alien, this might seem unusual, given that (a) most Yeerks do very little talking while in the pool, and (b) this being Esiln Kalkat, the pool was practically empty anyway. But, in fact, the two factors cancel each other out: the folkway against pool-time conversation is one imposed by hosted Yeerks, and, on the rare occasions when there are hardly any of these in the pool, the hostless ones tend to be veritable fountains of garrulity.

Furthermore, the fact of one of their number having been suddenly picked up and carried away by an unknown Hork-Bajir-Controller (which several of them had witnessed via echolocation) had given them an all-but-inexhaustible topic for excited speculation. Who was the Hork-Bajir-Controller? Why had he (or she) taken Oliss? Was there some sort of ritual performed on Esiln Kalkat that required the sacrifice of a hostless Yeerk to the Kandrona? Due to their natural lack of data, the pool-dwellers could answer none of these questions – which, of course (since Yeerks are, in many respects, only human), only made them speculate the more feverishly. By the time Oliss returned, the pool was fairly humming with theories, each wilder than the last; the poor creature was practically mobbed by its fellow izcots as they each sought confirmation of their favorite notions.

*Are you well, Oliss Three-Eight-Three?* clicked one. *The Sub-Visser didn't torture you too mercilessly, did he?*

*Why should the Sub-Visser torture his own spy?* inquired another tartly. *Do be reasonable, Zisha Nine-Six-Five.*

*What is your connection to Visser One, Oliss Three-Eight-Three?*

*How did you get trapped in morph?*

*Why...*

*Enough!* said a new voice from Oliss's right – a voice so forceful it sent two or three Yeerks reeling backward with the force of its vibrations. Oliss turned its palps and perceived its friend Pafil Twelve-Three-Nought. *Can you not let your pool-mate reacclimate itself to its surroundings? Be still, and leave Oliss Three-Eight-Three to steal a few moments' peace and quiet; you shall have all your answers presently.*

The others murmured, but reluctantly swam away, one by one, until Oliss and Pafil were left alone in their corner of the pool.

*Thank you, Pafil Twelve-Three-Nought,* said Oliss.

*Not at all,* said Pafil.

Then it hesitated. *Though, to be perfectly honest, part of my motivation was to get you alone so you could tell the story to me first. Not,* it added hastily, *that I wasn't concerned for you, as well. In fact, part of my thought was that, if it were the sort of story that is difficult to tell, you could tell it just to me, and then I could tell it to the others... you see?*

Oliss smiled inwardly. *Yes, Pafil Twelve-Three-Nought,* it said. *I see quite well.*

There was a pause.

*Well?* said Pafil. *Is it such a story?*

Oliss let out the high-pitched whistle that serves Yeerks in their native state for a sigh. *It is difficult to tell, yes,* it said. *But not because it is painful. It is not in the least painful –* (here its tone became almost wistful) *– but it is... strange. Very, very strange.*

It paused briefly to arrange its thoughts, and Pafil waited expectantly.

*Tell me, Pafil Twelve-Three-Nought,* said Oliss after some moments had passed, *if you were a human, what would you think of the Yeerk race?*

Pafil was caught off guard. This was not the sort of question a Yeerk, even a hostless Yeerk, asked another; it was too easy to slide into treason in one's answer. Indeed, the very act of asking the question suggested, if not actual treason, a certain weakness in one's loyalty to the Empire. Unless, of course, some of the others were correct in their speculations, and Oliss was indeed a spy for the Sub-Visser – in which case Pafil's life might well depend on its answer.

It chose its words carefully. *I suppose that I would feel as the conquered always feels toward the conqueror.*

*Exactly,* said Oliss, apparently oblivious to its companion's judicious phrasing. *You would not think kindly of us, would you? You would view us as monsters from outer space come to steal your people's bodies. You would not continually remind yourself that we had hearts and souls just as you did, and you certainly would not go out of your way to be kind to us.*

Pafil considered this. *No,* it said, having decided that agreement was safe so far. *No, I do not think I would do that.*

*And if you did,* Oliss continued, *would that not prove that there was something exceptional about you – some force inside you that was stronger than ordinary nature?*

*Yes, I suppose it would,* said Pafil. *But what does all this have to do with your adventure outside the pool just now?*

Oliss raised its palps toward the top of the pool, and absorbed a few extra Kandrona particles to fortify itself. *Let me tell you, Pafil Twelve-Three-Nought,* it said, *about the human called Teresa Sickles.*
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(3)

A reference to Ishlok One-Eight-Two, a legendary outlaw of Generation 59, one of whose most famous exploits involved him switching host bodies with his sworn enemy Council Member Eleven, so that the latter might be captured and killed by his own soldiers. His name has thus become a proverb for deflecting one's own guilt onto one's accuser, or (in general) onto anyone who could not possibly deserve it.
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(4)

This is an Anglicization of the Yeerkish word shrutellipiv, which means "to stimulate the pain centers of a host's brain for disciplinary purposes".

Qoheleth
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Re: Sacred Host

Post by Qoheleth » Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:51 am

Chapter 19 - The Tempting of Teresa Sickles

"Teresa?" Catherine Sickles called up the stairs. "Your father and I are heading out to get decorations for the Christmas cookies tomorrow. We'll be back in a few minutes."

"Okay, Mom, bye," Malcar called back. "See you later."

The front door slammed shut, and Malcar tossed aside the Baby-Sitters Club book she had been pretending to read in case someone came in. <Honestly, Teresa,> she said, <couldn't you have found something mildly interesting to stock your library with? Between your puerile devotionals and your pathetic teenage-girl fluff, it's amazing I can still think at all.>

This comment, like every other comment that Malcar had directed at her host since sunrise that morning, glanced off Teresa's psyche without leaving a scratch. <Interesting that your big holiday and ours were so close together this year,> she commented.

Malcar didn't reply. She supposed there would come a time, eventually, when she could think about Esiln Kalkat without flinching, but that time certainly had not come yet.

<They're even kind of the same sort of holiday, when you think about it,> Teresa said. <The Feast of Someone Getting a Body. Kind of appropriate that Gef should have been baptized when he was.>

This was the first time she had directly referred to her accomplishment of the previous day, and Malcar seized her opportunity. <I wanted to talk to you about that, Teresa,> she said. <Are you sure you did the right thing, baptizing that Hork-Bajir yesterday?>

Her host's synapses instantly formed themselves into a pattern of extreme wariness. <What do you mean?> said Teresa.

<Well, I'm not a theologian, of course,> said Malcar, <but wasn't the point of the Incarnation, on your theory, to undo the effects of the sin of Adam?>

<Yes...> said Teresa cautiously.

<Well, then, what makes you think it did anything for someone like Gef? He's not connected to Adam the way you are, is he?>

<Hang on a second,> said Teresa. <You're not trying to say that Hork-Bajir are sinless, are you? Because Gef himself said...>

<No, no,> said Malcar impatiently. <I'm saying that they inherited original sin from a different source than you did, so maybe they weren't – what's the word – redeemed the same way you were. Maybe God has a completely different plan for them, and you're interfering with it by forcing Gef into your own mode of salvation.>

Bulls-eye, she thought with satisfaction, seeing the distress and uncertainty her words produced in Teresa's mind. How do you deal with someone who just wants to serve her God? By convincing her that she's letting God down. Elskir's a genius.

But then, before she could pat herself on the back and turn her attention to something else, Teresa, who had been praying fervently for guidance while Malcar was gloating to herself, said, <But that can't be right. St. Paul says that Christ died once for all. Doesn't "all" include Hork-Bajir?>

Malcar was momentarily nonplussed, but she rallied quickly. <I thought that just meant "all men",> she said. <After all, it doesn't include angels, does it?>

<Okay, fine,> said Teresa, <but what's a "man"?>

<Excuse me?>

<What does the word "man" mean in this context?> said Teresa. <A rational animal, right? Well, Hork-Bajir are rational, and they're animals. That means they're covered.>

<Well, I'll grant you that Hork-Bajir are animals,> Malcar muttered, <but I'm not sure about the other half of that... But then what becomes of the idea that Jesus had to be a part of Adam's race in order to redeem it? I'm pretty sure I remember you reading something about that once.> And she activated the necessary memory synapses to flood Teresa's consciousness with Book 2, Chapter 8 of Cur Deus Homo.

Teresa sighed. <Yeah, I know,> she said. <And Anselm's a great saint and a Doctor of the Church, and I don't like to argue with him – but, you know, he admitted himself that he was just writing what seemed reasonable to him, and that God could easily show him better tomorrow. If he had known that there were fallen human-like beings in the universe who weren't descended from Adam, he might have followed a different line of argument.>

<That may well be your opinion,> said Malcar, <but it hardly answers my question. If it was necessary for one born of man to redeem the race of men, why was it not necessary for one born of Hork-Bajir to redeem the Hork-Bajir race?>

<Because the free gift isn't like the offense,> said Teresa. <Maybe it did take a thousand different Adams to populate the galaxy with fallen beings, but that doesn't mean it takes a thousand different Christs to redeem them all. Jesus is bigger than that.>

<So he singled out your one little planet and made it the only source of salvation in the galaxy?> said Malcar. <That hardly seems fair.>

<It's no worse than what he did with the Jews,> said Teresa. <If I don't mind that my ancestors had to be in contact with Jerusalem for me to find out that I was redeemed, why should Gef mind that his race had to be in contact with Earth?>

<And I suppose you can tell me why a loving God would arrange for redemption to be carried out in such a way that most of the redeemed would die without ever knowing about it,> said Malcar. (Strictly speaking, this, being a direct attack on Christianity as such, was a distraction from her goal of persuading Teresa that a good Christian ought not to be evangelizing aliens, but by this point she was starting to feel just generally contentious.)

<I guess because time and space are part of the whole curse-of-Adam thing,> said Teresa. <We won't have them in Heaven, you know. So if Jesus was trying to use death itself to overcome death, He had to use space and time to overcome space and time – and that meant that He had to start the Church in one particular time and place, and let it spread out to the rest of the universe from there.>

<You have an answer for everything, don't you, Teresa?> Malcar sneered.

<I don't,> said Teresa. <God does.>

<I see,> said Malcar. <Then perhaps, as his self-appointed Messenger to the Stars, you can tell me what, exactly, makes you think that you – you who avoid Mexicans because of an old schoolgirl rivalry, who agree with the Dove wrappers that chocolate is the answer to every problem, who can’t even remember to pray without having a schedule – what makes you think that you can be any kind of witness to a being like Gef?>

This was not, as some readers may suspect, a mere flood of vitriol, but a quite deliberate attack on one of Teresa's weaker points. Like most saints-in-the-making, Teresa was acutely aware of her own flaws (Malcar's comment about her tendency to gluttony particularly went home), and it was not irrational for her Controller to try self-doubt as her weapon when reason failed. Indeed, for a moment, it seemed to have worked.

But then, as Malcar watched, a sudden, irrational surge of strength flowed into Teresa's spirit, and she spoke with the quiet confidence of Edith Stein in the gas chamber. <That's an easy one,> she said. <The answer is: Retro me, Satanas.>

Malcar derided this as an evasion, but Teresa said nothing more. Indeed, she said nothing more (despite Malcar's numerous attempts to provoke her) for the rest of the day, and, by evening, Malcar knew that she had lost. Unless she were to malthalamize her host so intensely as to completely break her spirit (which the Sub-Visser would surely notice, and reprimand), in two days' time Teresa Sickles would be back at her task, spreading the gospel of Christ from her cage in the Yeerk pool. Neither sophistry nor scrupulosity, it seemed, would suffice to stop her.

And what shall I do, then, Jimur Three-Four-Five? Malcar thought. You who first infested a vertebrate life-form – you who taught us the three ways of breaking a host – what would you do, were you in my place?

But the great Yeerk hero could give her no answer.
Last edited by Qoheleth on Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

cazz333
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Re: Sacred Host

Post by cazz333 » Sat Jul 10, 2010 9:58 am

Awesome. keep writing. I'm intrigued as I get a creepy feeling that if the yeerks were real and that one was enslaved by one, things would work out similarly if one proclaims the Christian faith to the yeerks.