***

To the agent’s mind, mention of the ‘Ascended’ was hearsay and rumour. She once worked on an operation which involved the disappearance of several major political figures from the Sinoan embassies across the rest of Asia, however once mention of the word ‘Ascended’ came around the event became classified to a higher ranking. Meanwhile, the political figures were redacted from the history books. A couple weeks later the news outlets had all given up trying to get attention for any apparent evidence on the situation. The public moved on. However, the agent’s mind was not so sure about the event. There were, of course, many such classified events and processes within and outside of Sinoa that she had no knowledge of. But these could all be provided for with guesses and conspiracy theories. No… the rumour of the ‘Ascended’ was something else. The disappearances had left traces behind, but not from any source of radiation. Instead all of the materials in the room were coated in a dust layer of some unknown inert element. Her mind once again tried to wrap around the closed secrets from her past, but it solved nothing. She had no training in chemistry beyond the basics, but this still stuck out. She brought her attention back to the task at hand.

“What do you mean by the ‘Ascended’?” She asked, this time with no attempt to tick a box. Instead she brought out a completely blank page and placed it on the table. These notes were nothing to do with what had been requested by her superiors, but clearly it was important in some manner.

“They gave me that name. And it is the only apt name that I think would describe their vast immensity…” Radigan replied, his body was hunched forwards and his eyes were transfixed to the ceiling.

“And who are they?” she queried further, however Radigan was still lost to the room.

“It was like my mind was clasped and everything else in my surroundings fell away to reveal these beings to me… Perfect and flawless this entity surrounded me, and I became one with it…” He hadn’t blinked for a while and a tear escaped his left eye. The wetness of the drop on his cheek brought his mind back to the present.

“You just said that there were ‘beings’ plural, but also refer to a singular ‘entity’?” Half of her thought that he was simply a mad man. That the gold atom had somehow torn through his mind and turned his perspective from scientific to religious. That made no sense either though. Believing people to be as simple as that was altogether another kind of madness.

“It is confusing to relate a description of them in the simple terms from our horrendous language.” He said as he wiped the tear from his face with the cuff of his sleeve. He began to study the agent again. There was something different. None of her physical attributes had changed, the dark hair was still neat, her eyes still possessed the same grey-iris glare, and her skin was still pale. He spotted the difference. Her posture had changed. No longer was she calm and collected, but she brought her body closer to the table as if to stop the guards from any chance of seeing the notes she made. And rather than the checklists and order there was a hesitancy in her note-taking. He looked back at her thin lips, and realised he’d missed a question.

“I repeat, do you think that our language is inferior?” The tone of her voice had not changed.

“Only to pure knowledge in basic essence.” He answered but saw that it wasn’t enough. “These things defy a basic description.”

“Would you describe your experience as a religious one?” she asked. Her pen hovered further from the page than usual.

“Not at all. The Ascended are not something which created us or maintains us.” He seemed to point his nose away from the idea that he was a religious man of any kind.

“Can you tell me more about these beings you saw in your hallucination? How did they lead to your concepts?” She decided that her investigation of the Ascended would have to play secondary to the event Doctor Erh-Lang had created. Her curiosities should not have overtaken the justice of such a criminal, she thought.

“It was these beings that allowed me to achieve the clarity necessary for my mind to understand my task.” For this he had no gestures, his hands were simply left in his lap.

“Your task?” She questioned and leaned closer on her restless leg. “Your task!?” she raised her voice. The guards’ backs stiffened even more. Radigan gave her his undivided attention.

“Yes.” He hesitated to say.

“You are saying these beings had chosen you to kill all those people!?” At this point she stood up. The guards looked at each other and then kept rigid. Radigan kept eye contact with her but he had shrunk in his chair as much as he could.

“Killing people was not in my plan” – the agent stopped the recorder and started walking around the table – “it was your agents that interfered with the task that resulted in” – He was a fast talker but even he couldn’t manage to put out a complete sentence before she grabbed the collar of his shirt and punched him squarely in the face. The pain welled around his eyes, but there was an absence around particular points where the knuckles made contact. He could tell that the bruising would be obvious. He flinched but this time the agent only leaned in with her head, close to his ear.

“Your so-called task was not only responsible for the deaths of thousands for the nation,” she whispered, making sure the guards could not hear, “but you also cost the lives of my parents, my husband, and my child.” She brought her head back up. Her hand still clutched his collar. Out loud she spoke “I hope you understand the terms of your situation here, Doctor Radigan Erh-Lang.” She set off the recording again, her leg still restless. “These beings, what were they?”

“The Ascended are a perfection of essence.” He stumbled his words over his tongue. He could already tell that part of his vision was blocked from the swell of his injury.

“God-like beings? Angels?” she prodded, not giving him a chance for a rest.

“No, not divine, not of faith. These were creatures of pure science. Technology brought to the maximum end! The Ascended are a being which have transcended their own universes.” He hoped that speaking faster would let him rest as she wrote it all down, but his attempt had failed.

“These beings come from different universes?” she asked. At this point her mind was on automatic, her questions were reflexes. She hated the side of herself that gave out to the violence, even in such a justified situation. Her training had taken over to keep her in check.

“Yes and no.” Radigan said. He tried to fit other words into his mouth but failed to be comprehensible.

“What do you mean by this confusion?” She briefly looked back up at Radigan’s red and purple face.

“The Ascended are a conglomeration of many universes and beings from many universes.” He struggled to simplify the matter.

“The Ascended are universes themselves?” Her notetaking had only increased in speed as his speech did.

“If you let me talk you will find out all that you want about these creatures in my so-called vivid hallucination!” he spoke in outburst and immediately closed his eyes as hard as he could. A couple moments later when nothing had happened he opened them and saw that she had put down the pen and leaned back, rather than his expectation of another beating.

“Right…” she stopped the jitter in her leg. “So, what did they say to you?” Radigan took a couple deep breaths before he started.

“The Ascended don’t speak like you or I; they transmit pure knowledge in all frequencies, senses, and languages directly into your mind so that you gain a perfect understanding of all they wish to give to you. My hallucination only lasted mere seconds according to my colleagues and yet I learned so much of what they are; theories of Boltzmann-brains, technological singularities resulting in super-intelligences, and sentient-universe theory to name but a few! These and so many more all intersect to create what these beings truly are. They are a transcendental infinitely-large collective hive-mind of creatures and machines focused on the gaining of absolute perfection, and oh!” he stopped to gasp in the amazement that he overwhelmed himself with, “How they are so close to achieving it constantly! Every nanosecond they update themselves to a better version throughout all their vessels and minds!”

“And they are the reason you created your machine?” the agent asked, not bothered to attempt to understand the gibberish he had just spouted lest he repeat it.

“Yes!” he shouted. He startled one of the guards who had lost themselves when they tried to imagine the scenario he described. “These begins wanted humanity to join them!” a smile had snuck its way onto Radigan’s face and he left it there.

“They seem powerful enough, if you are to be believed, to simply abduct us. If they are real, why haven’t they done so yet?” She locked eyes with Radigan, and his smile wavered for a moment.

“Humanity is not ready for their influence. That is why I built my machine! It was to be the first step of their new enterprise with our own planet Erecura!” The agent was caught off-guard.

“Erecura?” She rattled her mind to make the connection. “Isn’t that the Atlantean name for our planet?” she asked. Only briefly had she taken a history course, but they covered a number of ancient civilisations that were once thought mythical.

“Exactly! The last time the Ascended had a large stake in our planet was when the Atlantean civilisation was around!” His voice only seemed to get louder, and his smile turned into a wide grin.

“Then why are we not already a part of this conglomeration of so-called perfection? I can hardly see them as perfect beings if they have failed twice now in their efforts to recruit us.” She sneered at him. She hated to play into his fantasies but had decided it was the best way to get more information and get this all over with. She found it hard to contain her anger.

“The Ascended are not the only entities out there in the endless abyss of the multiverse.” He spoke solemnly. “With my clarity I gained sight of not only the good, but the bad as well.” He took a few seconds of contemplation before he continued. “Their sworn enemies the ‘Horrors’ are what caused the downfall of Atlantis, as they told me Procotheos wrote in his sixth book.” Again, she was taken back to her history course as a student some years ago.

“Procotheos only wrote five books. You are clearly quite deluded.” She made a note of it, larger than the others.

“Deluded? You are the ones who are deluded! We could be reaching out and joining the ranks of perfection with the Ascended but then you ruined this progression! You ruined it all with the destruction of my glorious machine and now we are at risk of siege by the foul demonic Horrors!” He had begun to scream.

“I thought you were not a religious man, Doctor.”

“Knowledge of beings like these would turn any devout man from faith. The worst men from history are paragons of morality in comparison to even one of the chaotic beasts that rank in the Horrors.” He tried to say this with the utmost seriousness but the agent across from him did not even bat an eyelid.

“Guards.” She spoke. They immediately walked to either side of Radigan’s chair and stood there, monoliths of muscle that towered over his beaten form, though they didn’t look at him.

“Now that we have calmed you down, what was this machine supposed to do?” She asked as she put her pen back to the checklists of her folder. Radigan raised his breath to speak but then gave up.

“The machine was the first step of what the Ascended laid out of their plan for me.” He looked down at the table and twiddled with his thumbs.

“Why did they choose you?”

“I was a man of science. Understanding of how science puts itself above all nations and ideologies. The apparently ‘Glorious’ Republic of Sinoa is a mere shadow of the fallen nation it climbed out of.” The thought of spitting blood at her folders came across his mind, but he felt a slight pain in each breath and so he decided it was best not to provoke them. “They wanted me to ready humanity for their influence.”

“And how would your machine have done this?” she made the note ‘messiah complex’ on the paper.

“If you hadn’t destroyed my marvellous machine you would understand why we needed to do this.” He tried to make their eyes meet but failed.

“How did you come to concept of the machine, exactly this time?” she flicked back to previous notes and added bullet points to fill in.

“The Ascended gave me clarity of what the demonstration I performed could be used for. I merely had to extrapolate what was happening inside my own head to the whole world. Except I needed to practice on smaller subject groups first.”

“And this is why you were banned from the labs?” to which Radigan laughed. They both knew that human experimentation was not illegal in Sinoa.

“I smashed the demonstration equipment. No-one could know of or do what I was going to do with this technology. The marvellous machine I was going to make would only work if I myself used it, with my particular mind that the Ascended had chosen.”

“And how did this machine work?” She was both irritated with his tangents and her own violence, though she was pleased to have made progress at last.

***

THE EVENTS OF JULY TWENTY-SIXTY-SEVEN | THE OBJECTIONABLE INVENTION | THE MARVELLOUS MACHINE

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