Chapter 3 -

TAURUS

Sixty cycles had passed since Janithillon had presented the concept of the awesome machine known as TAURUS to the Apostophet; which he solemnly believed would herald a new future for the lives and ongoing civilisation of Xethenia.

The moment had finally arrived to perform a public trial on a live Xethantian criminal, a notorious member of the PiruNostram; known to many as a pack leader and a closely respected ally to Nemesis himself.

Janithillon mused over that thought for a moment as an assembled gathering of the Apostophet and senior dignitaries took their places in the viewing gallery which had a commanding view of the area in which TAURUS stood. It was a huge, grey, ominous and cold looking monster which was emitting a deep resonating hum, waiting patiently to spring into life and like some hungry animal. It was ready and waiting to devour its first meal.

Suddenly a sound not unlike the gentle bang of a gong filled the gallery and the chanting audience fell quiet as Sobek stood onto an elevated dais and raised his hands to address them all.

“My fellow Apostophet, Xethantian dignitaries and guests, I bid you a warm welcome to bear witness to what I hope will be the dawn of a new era in our planet's evolution. A new era which will send a message of peace and hope throughout the known galaxies of our universe. A new era celebrating an end to the vile existence of the PiruNostram and to all those that support this evil criminality. Together they have been the burden of many lives for countless orbinars”.

He paused for a moment as the audience erupted with applause and then fell silent as he raised his hands again to continue.

“Our most revered scientist Janithillon, along with his team have spent many orbinars developing and testing the machine you see before you. Known as TAURUS, it has the capacity to remove the uniform from the body of a Xethantian in such a way that it will be impossible for them to remain immortal”.

There was a brief bout of cheers and applause.

“Many members of PiruNostram packs have been detained in maximum security cells, charged with crimes against Xethanity and more seriously, to other off-world mortals, who have innocently lost their lives as a consequence of mindless violence and soon they will be silenced forever”.

This was met with more applause from the delegation.

“Let the demonstration begin” hailed Sobek as he stepped down from the dais and made his way back to a central seat in with the other Apostophet senators.

Janithillon stood up and took centre stage on the dais. He courteously bowed his head to the audience before turning to wave his hands apart from each other and a hologram console emerged into view. He tapped onto a few imaged buttons and then turned to face the eagerly anxious audience.

“May it please the Apostophet and my fellow Xethantians to witness this inaugural event? The TAURUS will take a few moments to power up, during which time you will experience considerable tremors from a deep and growling noise, but please remain calm as this is quite normal”.

The PiruNostram pack leader, known simply as Malice was carried in on a floating stretcher, his arms and legs held in traction binders. His head moved around in an animated fashion trying to take stock of what was going on around him. Eventually he centred on the huge brilliantly lit maw which formed the entrance to TAURUS, with what looked like steam rolling off the circular edge.

His eyes bulged and he tried to wrestle free from the bindings but it was futile and useless and he knew it. Janithillon's voice boomed around him in the room.

“Guards, guide the maglev plinth into the mouth of the TAURUS and then you may leave the room”.

They did as he requested and marched away silently without a word to the panic stricken prisoner.

Malice turned his head sideways and looked over his shoulder up to the viewing gallery window, whereupon he could see the crowd looking down at him and Janithillon in the foreground, his fingers poised over an array of controls.

“Malice” he called out “You are evil PiruNostram scum and are about to be erased from our planet's history. You will live no more to bring pain, grief and death to those who innocently fall prey to your gang violence. This machine will be the cure to your diseased mind. Have you anything to say before it brings your miserable and pitiful life to an end?”

Malice stared at him with a demonic look and tensed his entire body, shouting “The PiruNostram will be avenged, mark my words. You, your family, friends and associates will not be safe. We will destroy you. We will destroy Xethenia”.

Janithillon had heard enough. He waved his hand over a glowing image and the plinth started to move forwards into the over bearing light. Malice closed his eyes to shield them but kept on shouting his pledge to kill everyone that stood in the way of the PiruNostram; but at that moment the pace of movement and the noise of the machine started to increase and his ranting was swallowed up by the screeching sounds of the power that would soon begin to transform his entire being into light and energy.

Janithillon turned to the audience, who were already leaning forward and he gestured towards the huge video wall, which was showing a holographic projection of what was happening inside the machine.

“Observe the transformation of the host”.

They all looked on with a combination of horror, interest and twisted excitement. They all knew the enormity of what was about to happen and as the process wore on, many felt uneasy and uncomfortable in the knowledge with what the future would now mean to them, more than the significance of what it meant to the PiruNostram. The atmosphere was tense, quiet, disturbing and fraught with private emotion.

Inside TAURUS, the plinth which had been originally carrying Malice had already been vaporised and he was now wrapped in a cocoon of energy which was gradually ravaging his body, whilst it orbited around the inner shell of the machine at an incredibly high velocity.

Up until that point you could have still heard malice screaming, such was the power of the uniform which was desperately trying to protect him. But now, not only was he silent, but the life of the most powerful and advanced organism in the known universe was itself beginning to be extinguished.

The barrage of concentrated energy sources continued and the orbiting speed kept accelerating, along with the intensity of the screeching noise. It was now impossible to even detect the outline glow of what everyone knew would be a corpse. A moment later, a turret on the outside of the machine swung round and aimed a muzzle skywards, just as an opening in the domed ceiling slid aside.

The room shook as pulses of raw light and energy shot skyward.

Janithillon had to yell at them in order to be heard above the noise to look at the video wall on the other side of the viewing gallery “We now have separation and so begins the process of what we call desolation, as each element of energy will be fired into Foldspace which is being opened randomly and closed in minute fractions of time by XPACE”.

As their collective attention switched back and forth from one wall to another, deep resonating pulses of sound rang out in time to each blast of energy being fired into the edge of the atmosphere.

As quickly as it appeared, it was being swallowed up into the black mass of Foldspace where it could no longer be tracked as no-one really knew where it would emerge, not that anybody cared.

Janithillon's deep blue eyes glowed with excitement and he had a thin smile on his lips as he slowly looked over the audience, pausing to gaze for a few moments on the expressions of those faces who seemed to be demonstrating the most fear of what they were staring at. The likes of Senator Mayan and Magdala contrasted completely to those showing an air of smug satisfaction, such as Senator Lassalla and Principal Sobek.

‘What's wrong with these people’ he thought ‘They've been waiting and yearning for a solution to this problem and now we’ve got it, all they can do is sit there worrying about the future’.

A few moments passed and the assault on the senses in terms of noise and violent images suddenly ended. TAURUS returned dramatically to the deep but resonating hum it had been exuding at the beginning of what some took to be more like an execution, rather than a feeling of grateful loss.

Janithillon waved both his hands independently towards the opposing video wall and the holograms disappeared and was about to speak when Sobek stood up and motioned towards him with his hand so he could take control of the conversation.

“Well this a truly historic cycle. What we have just witnessed, whilst at times may have been seen as very brutal and emotionally disturbing, nonetheless heralds a new dawn for our people and I'm sure many other races will welcome what we have achieved. So my thanks go out to Janithillon and his team for their dedication and perseverance in finally bringing the beginning of an end to The PiruNostram”.

A handful of delegates started to applaud but were not joined in union with the vast majority and the clapping soon fizzled out and a feeling of awkwardness began to settle around those in the room. Some simply got up and began to make their way towards the exit.

Senator Magdala stood up and voiced her concerns loudly and directly at Sobek who by now was standing next to Janithillon “You see Principal, not everyone agrees with your enthusiasm and wishful sentiment. You have merely managed to divide opinion and raised more anxiety and concern about the future stability of Xethenia”.

Many delegates had stopped to listen to Magdala and some voiced or simply nodded and half clapped their feelings of agreement to what was being said.

Sobek stood once more onto the raised dais and tried to call them all to order and suggested they return to their seats so he could address them; but not before Magdala could carry on speaking

“I know you were given a majority mandate from the Apostophet to create this machine of death, but like all fanciful ideas, you don’t always see the real impact of the decisions that you take until they are revealed in the stark reality of what we just witnessed; which for me was personally sickening”.

Sobek looked around the room and observed the nodding support from the people in the room.

“Senator Magdala, I know you were against this project from the outset and that is your view and opinion which you are at liberty to share of course. However what most people appreciate and have to live with is the impact of the PiruNostram on our lives, as well as those that are mortal, which in many cases comes to a horrific end.      I openly admitted that the process of dealing with an immortal criminal like Malice, is somewhat disturbing, but we have to do something and whilst it may be uncomfortable to live with, this machine provides us with the opportunity to restore the balance and quality of life here on Xethenia. More importantly it will signal to the rest of the universe that we can now bring law and order, safety and peace to all concerned”.

There was an appreciative response to Sobek’s words but Magdala was about to deliver a worrying riposte.

“My main concern Principal is that what we have created here is a machine that will destroy any Xethantian. If it were to fall into the hands of the PiruNostram then we could have a civil war on our hands, let alone bring even more fear and tyranny to our neighbouring galaxies. They are likely to suffer as a consequence of the threat bearing down on the very existence of the PiruNostram, which I have no doubt will simply stoke up their appetite for destruction and survival”.

All eyes that were hitherto glued to Magdala now turned back to Sobek, who was frantically trying to think of a reply and to calm the anxious nerves of the remaining delegation. But the words wouldn’t come and he was forced to back down and demonstrate a willingness to reconsider Magdala’s concerns.

“My fellow Apostophet and guests, I will arrange for an executive meeting to discuss Senator Magdala’s concerns and we will announce the outcome after that event has taken place. I want to ensure that there are no risks to society, either here or in other galaxies, that would prevent us from policing and protecting them”. He then turned to Janithillon and spoke quietly “Meet me in my office once they have all been dismissed, as I need to talk things through with you privately”.

If Sobek thought he could path with Janithillon he would have preferred it, but no Apostophet senator was permitted to bind with either each other or anyone else in such high office. Many chose only to bind with their partners, mainly for conception purposes, but avoided friends and relatives due to the potential risks of compromising their high ranking position of importance in planetary society.

He knew his office was shielded against sound and data intrusion, even from pathing, but he still spoke with a whisper and sat close to the revered scientist. He needed to establish whether he could trust Janithillon and more importantly gauge his opinions and thoughts on the earlier event to see if they were on his level of thinking.

“What are your thoughts about Senator Magdala’s concerns Janithillon?”

Janithillon looked at him quizzically and wondered why he was speaking in such hushed tones, but he went along with the mood, even though he knew they wouldn’t be monitored.

“Senator Magdala does have a point but she is panicking unnecessarily and I’m sure her concerns will be alleviated once we make significant in-roads into processing these mindless PiruNostram psychopaths”.

Sobek was inwardly pleased at hearing Janithillon’s views, so he ventured further and more directly “How many PiruNostram pack members can TAURUS dispose of each cycle, if we assume a continuous process of execution?”

Janithillon thought for a moment; his mind churning with statistics on the one hand and a concern that was emerging in his mind on the other. It was all too evident that Principal Sobek was intent on a fast track process of purging the PiruNostram behind a veil of deceit, which was designed to placate Senator Magdala’s concerns.

“I would estimate that TAURUS would be capable of processing 1000 beings per cycle so that would be 300,000 per Orbinar, but that is based on there being only one machine and ....”.

But Sobek raised his hand to stop him mid-sentence and his train of thought had wandered. He mused whilst cradling his chin in his hand and then turned to face Janithillon.

“Yes the answer is more machines certainly, but maybe not here on Xethenia. Now you have properly trialled TAURUS, how long would it take to construct more of them?”

“But why do you not want the machines here Principal?”

“Because in order to get started on this process and more importantly to make meaningful progress, then we need to take swift and decisive action in order to bypass Senator Magdala’s growing pool of followers. Furthermore, as opposed to the 4 or 5 orbinars, your calculations would suggest we would need to eradicate the PiruNostram, we could potentially achieve all these aims by housing the TAURUS machines out of immediate view”.

“I’m not entirely sure that is an ethical practice Principal” Janithillon said with a slow anguished tone in his voice.

“Do you think the PiruNostram have any ethics my friend?” Sobek responded, with his voice slightly raised, “But answer the question, how long would it take to build say a further 9 machines?”

“I’m very worried Principal that you are rushing things through and I can see now why Senator Magdala feels the way she does, because if you try to hide the truth, then the kick back could be overwhelming, even for our own well-resourced planetary protectorate to deal with”

“Just tell me how long it would take Janithillon and may I remind you of your position in society, the privilege you have and perhaps just as importantly, the fact that you seem to be questioning my authority as the leader of the Apostophet”, Sobek replied with a hint of anger in his voice.

Janithillon frowned and focused his glowing blue eyes at Sobek, thinking should he apologise, but then electing to simply provide the answer requested “Given the right amount of engineering resource, then I would expect it to take 60 cycles in total to construct a further 9 machines and make them fully operational Principal”.

“And am I right in thinking that Quella hosts the largest group of off-world PiruNostram packs outside of Xethenia?”

“Yes I believe it does Principal”.

“Then that is where we start, because the Mequellium will certainly wish to participate in getting rid of these thugs, I can assure you of that, be they Xethantian, or Mequexian for that matter” his voice trailing off slightly awkwardly as he was reminded of Janithillon’s heritage. But then he followed quickly and with more conviction “Besides, I’m sure your Father, Opus Rah, will be the first in the queue to support the annihilation of these vindictive and evil animals?”

Janithillon reflected for a moment before responding. He realised only too well, how badly the kidnap of his Father had affected him.

He was already very old, probably close to reaching the end of his life. But the kidnapping incident had left him frail and for that Janithillon felt he was being robbed of some of the most precious years of his Father’s life and for what – some miserable sum of money compared to the real value of his worth in terms of being a family man, a scientist and respected citizen of Quella.

“Yes you’re probably right Principal” replied Janithillon with a heavy sigh “We can get most of the TAURUS machines constructed on Quella and the other planets you have in mind remotely, using DEC technology, which could then be prepped, tested and made ready for use by our own trained teams”

Digitised Equipment Construction is a highly advanced form of 3D Printing where virtually anything non-organic, but none-the-less complex in design, can be imaged and reconstructed in specially rigged rooms which could be millions of miles away.

In a matter of minutes, computer controlled beams of energy 'build' by solidifying small fragments of a substance called Plexitrat in fractions of a second. Plexitrat can be used to synthesise any material the engineers have in mind, be it metallic, plastic, electronics based or mechanical but not organic material. Large machines like TAURUS would take just several days to assemble.

Just as Sobek was about to carry on with the conversation, his com-link alerted him to an incoming call and via his audio sensory nerve, he knew it was Senator Magdala. He tapped the film piece on his neck and said “accept with view” and immediately, a perfectly formed, unnervingly real, 3D image of the senator appeared in front of him.

“Hello Senator, how can I help you” Sobek said in a rather banal tone.

“Good Median Principal, are you busy or can we talk?”

Sobek whirled round to face Janithillon as he said “Well as you can see I'm here with Janithillon and we're talking about the concerns that have been expressed about the TAURUS project, so as long as you don't mind him being here then we can speak freely”

“Hello Janithillon and yes I'm happy with him being in your presence Principal”.

“Very well, now how can I help you?”

“Well it's somewhat fortuitous that you should be talking about TAURUS, as I would like to suggest that we venture more towards understanding and appreciating why the PiruNostram behave the way they do and address it through care and education. Rather than simply obliterating them completely, which in itself will take many orbinars; affect the consciousness of many citizens and no doubt will have huge knock on effects not only here on Xethenia but around the universe. Besides which, I don't think we can afford it, let alone justify it. Consequently I would like this motion to be put on the agenda for discussion at the next Apostophet planetary summit meeting in 10 cycle’s time”.

In response Sobek struggled to contain his emotions “Are you out of your mind Senator. Do you seriously expect to be able to change the hearts and minds of these animals through education and care? If it were that easy, we would have done it a millennia ago woman”.

Magdala was somewhat taken aback by Sobek’s insulting reply, but she stood her ground saying “I won't be addressed in that tone or bullied either Principal. Besides these are not just my own personal views, rather those of an influential collective, including Senator Mayan, who have changed their thoughts and opinions quite considerably since the demonstration of TAURUS”.

Sobek raised his hands in a pleading gesture “Look I’m sorry but we have invested billions of BOXSidar credits pursuing a varied course of incarceration, mediation, education and re-integration in a bid to achieve exactly that which you say we ought to do. However, it has only served to limit the public support for the PiruNostram and has not dented their numbers or turned them away from the life of violent crime they lust after”.

(Bank of Xethenia Sidar is a planetary wide equivalent of a crypto-currency, managed centrally by the Apostophet)

“I'm aware of that Principal but maybe we just haven't directed the investment as well as we could have done and consequently we gave up too soon. Furthermore, at what price do we risk paying for by simply pursuing a policy destroy and be damned?” she replied in a rather passionate voice.

“I hear you Senator and believe me I'm considering many options, which is why I will grant you your discussion with the Apostophet, but in the interim I would ask that you remain calm and more importantly refrain from talking about this to outsiders”.

“Very well Principal but can I ask what view Janithillon has about all this, being as his family have been directly affected by a PiruNostram crime. Does he feel in all fairness that TAURUS is the answer?”

Sobek turned away from Magdala's gaze and fleetingly caught the attention of Janithillon before he walked into the reach of the holovision arc and made it clear through the wide glare of his eyes what he wanted him to say before saying “Would you like to reply to Senator Magdala's question Janithillon?”

“Senator Magdala, TAURUS has almost become my life's work and the PiruNostram so very nearly ended the life of my Father. As much as they are an evil and dangerous threat; it is immortality which underpins what is wrong with the Xethantian civilisation.

If my research is allowed to progress, then I believe we can at some point in the future divorce ourselves from Synexillum forever and restore normality to Xethantian evolution. It is my belief this will in turn restore harmony, peace and balance throughout the universe. Something which I would have thought even you would cherish is it not?”

“I see. So what you're telling me is that the path towards achieving that aim is to rid ourselves of the PiruNostram first - is that right?”

“It may be a necessary step - yes” Janithillon replied cautiously, conscious of the fact that Sobek was still glaring at him discreetly and having some difficulty lying in the process.

Sobek turned to face Magdala and tried to restore a calm and composed look on his face once more and said “An intriguing and interesting view on things don't you think? However we will talk more about this at the Apostophet meeting Senator Magdala, so for now if you'll excuse me, I have a need to return to my meeting with Janithillon”.

“Yes of course Principal. Goodbye” and she closed the call.

 

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