OF MAN AND GODS - BOOK TWO - SEEDS OF THE ALLIANCE Greg J Miller
CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED AND TEN– SLEEP OF THE GODS
For several months, Chronos had continued to mostly work alone, except in consultation with the Master Oracle and with those Remote Oracles in his company. That circumstance was soon about to change.
Exactly one year had passed since the destruction of the Orbital Station during the battle above the Earth. On that particular day, the Master Oracle reported the detection of something that Chronos had been quietly hoping for.
Despite its limited sensor equipment, the Master Oracle could hardly have missed the telltale sign of Chronomatic disturbance. The detection had been made half way around the globe, just above the atmosphere of the Earth.
The Master Oracle had quickly identified the source of the disturbance as coming from Avrum's Speculae Mapyli. The Master Oracle extended immediate effort to make contact with him and establish a dialogue.
Immediately afterward, Chronos was made fully aware of the circumstance and informed that Avrum was proceeding directly to his location.
In due course, Avrum arrived at the Nile Valley base. With the Master Oracle linked to the Remote Oracles, Chronos and Avrum met to discuss their circumstances.
Chronos was only mildly surprised to learn that Avrum had not arrived from the past, but from a possible future timeline. Avrum made a point of indicating that he had exercised a great deal of caution during his recent excursions. He had further commented that it had become far more difficult to navigate his temporal journeys since the destruction of the equipment upon the Orbital Station.
That equipment had functioned to prevent him from actually travelling into the past from any given point along the timeline. Although he was able to utilise low-level emissions to peer backward and observe, he had not previously been able to initiate the energies required for actual physical displacement. He could look into future times, and physically travel forward, but he could never go back. At least, not until that equipment had ceased to exist.
However, that equipment had also served as a navigational beacon. Without that beacon, it had become difficult to ensure that he was actually peering back into his native timeline, let alone that he was travelling into his own past. He had run the risk of possibly finding himself in a parallel timeline and directly encountering another version of himself. Although none of them could reasonably predict the potential danger of such a thing, Avrum was not of a mind to find out. He had already experienced quite a number of close calls in his attempts to return to that time and place. He held no desire to tempt the fates any further than was necessary.
Avrum tried to hold the arguments of the others at bay, assuring them all that he would not have even taken such a risk, if were not of the utmost importance.
He said that were there many consequential things that he had garnered from the future timelines. Things of great importance to what was likely to lay ahead. Some of it had even been relayed back to him from future versions of himself. He had said that some of it must be shared immediately. Some of it must be held back for the time being. Only to be revealed at the appropriate time.
The Oracles and Chronos were all suitably disturbed by what they were hearing from him. Chronos expressed his firm hope that Avrum was actually capable of acting wisely.
Avrum openly agreed with that sentiment. Given what he had learned from future timelines, he said that the very first thing that was needed was a functional beacon to provide for more accurate temporal navigation.
He'd predicted that other versions of himself, in other parallel timelines, would also be making the same argument. The last thing that he wanted was for any further incidents to intrude upon other realities.
The Master Oracle had rationally suggested that if Avrum did not utilise the Speculae Mapyli at all, then such a danger would not exist. Avrum countered that even if he did not utilise it, other versions of himself could well do so. A beacon would not only serve to ensure that he remained within his own timeline, it would also serve to help keep others away.
He had further argued that the information that he would gather from future activities would prove fully vital to the future of the Earth and its peoples. He also understood that it would come to play a vital part in the future of the other Guardians that lay dormant.
Of course, that comment had gained the full attention of all present. Avrum told them that he could confirm that there were a number of other survivors, but he would not yet reveal their locations. In fact, he conceded that he did not yet clearly know for himself. However, he had been told that he would eventually learn those details before Chronos. In due course, it would become imperative that those survivors only be retrieved and revived at the appropriate time. At the least, that was what was indicated from the information that he'd already received from even further in the future than he had directly returned from. That information came from a future version of himself, reaching back into the past of his timeline. Avrum argued that such a link must remain unbroken.
The Master Oracle continued to remain somewhat hesitant to fully accept Avrum's seemingly circular logic. It was more inclined to err upon the side of caution. Nevertheless, it did feel the need to learn more before any firm conclusions could be drawn.
Chronos was of a somewhat similar mind. However, he was little more open to Avrum's claims. What he really wanted, was to hear more detail. Especially with regard to the other surviving members of their kind.
Avrum proceeded to reveal some small part of what he considered safe to discuss. He said that only a small number of Guardians had succeeded in implementing the emergency instructions that had been issued. As yet, he did not actually know who they were or exactly how many. He was told that there were less than twenty. Each of them had been involved in the battle above the Earth. Also, each had managed to bury themselves in remote locations away from the main settlements and enter into a synchronous stasis with Remote Oracles. To the best of his knowledge, any of those that had tried to follow those instructions within the major population centres had not survived despite attempt.
Chronos confirmed that his own investigations had already indicated the firm likelihood of that last part. In as much as he could detect no survivors at those locations.
Furthermore, Avrum told them that they would discover that the process of entering into long termed synchronous stasis had already begun to cause lasting damage to each of the survivors. At the current time, none of them yet possessed the appropriate knowledge or facilities to repair that damage or pursue alternative options. Unfortunately, Avrum did not yet know enough to fully elaborate upon that. Or at the least, that was what he'd claimed.
Even once the survivors had been located, it would be some time before they would be ready to retrieve them. If they were revived prematurely, they would likely not live long enough to serve the needs of the future. Given that the fuel cells of Remote Oracles could potentially last for several centuries on minimal power in a state of induced stasis, the time that those survivors could also remain in stasis was also potentially lengthy. Accordingly, delaying retrieval and revival would prove the best strategy.
Before that time, Chronos would need to do a great deal in preparation. He needed to create a much more substantial base of operations, with far better facilities. The Master Oracle would also need to play a substantial part in that activity.
Taking the tone of discussion in another direction Avrum told them that they would encounter just a few others in due course. One would be an Unchanged Gielaan. He revealed that much. He added that there were possibly a few other Gielaan that had escaped with their lives, but held no certainty of that.
Avrum also revealed to them that there was at least one other Unchanged Titannian still alive. Without revealing who it was, he told them that they would not encounter that person for about another thirty years.
He further advised that no effort should be made to find that individual. The person in question would come to them at the appropriate time, and would provide them with information gained in the interim that they would not have otherwise acquired.
Chronos had been rather frustrated with the nature of what Avrum had provided. He was far more accustomed to dealing with facts. Or at the least, dealing with methodologies that directly led to the uncovering of such facts.
Despite some measure of strain between them, Avrum would remain with Chronos for a period of time. There was immediate work to be done that would require direct cooperation.
Although Chronos would not become fully aware of it at that time, Avrum had actually kept him distracted from pursuit of certain circumstances. He'd only admit to that much later, when it became more appropriate.
Tending to first things first, at Avrum's insistence, a temporal beacon was constructed to provide tangible anchor to that specific timeline. He wasn't intending to make use of it right away, but he'd again insisted that it needed to be active, in order to discourage other versions of himself was intruding upon their specific frame of space-time.
A short while after that task had been attended, Chronos had organised for the orbiting capsule to be landed upon the surface and then looked toward the need for a more substantial base of operations.
As it passed, Avrum had quite a bit to contribute with regard to certain specifics. Though he remained frustratingly vague in provided detailed reasoning, he'd urged that the base should be constructed in a remote mountain location on the 'North American' continent.
Though he could readily imagine suitably remote locations in nearer places, Chronos could surmise that locating the base at such a remote location would certainly make it far harder to be observed by any of the currently emergent civilisations of the world. He'd often felt that neither Olympus nor Aesgard were quite so inaccessible as might one day become more necessary. He couldn't predict what the future might hold and he hardly expected Avrum to be more forthcoming in that regard. Even so, there were no technologically developed cultures in that region that had been suggested and those that did live nearby remained relatively sparsely spread and unlikely to intrude.
In that new base of operations, aside from initial construction work, there would be a great deal of work ahead. With the assistance of the Oracles and limited number of automatons, along with Avrum's help, Chronos would have much to do for many years to come.
They'd started with excavating an existing cavern in the mountainside. In due course, it would eventually become something far more substantial.
Though only a lesser priority, that small capsule had eventually been repurposed into a functional shuttle. Not a very large one or able to go very far, but serviceable enough for limited purpose. It made retrieving what remained in that Nile Valley base a much easier task. That place needed to be completely cleaned out and abandoned.
In the new base, additional automatons needed to be constructed with relatively limited resources. In time, pursuit of that task would eventually see to its own further development and perpetuation.
In due course, further resources would need to be developed and refined in order to search for and revive the buried survivors. Chronos remained uncertain just what measure of useful assistance that Avrum was going provide in the fullness of time. He'd been only forthcoming in offering certain things, deemed likely to support pursuit of certain agenda, but commonly rather less than accommodating when it came to providing what might be considered more useful detail.
In a similar vein, Chronos had been encouraged to work toward setting up for advanced genetic research and recreating specialised equipment to implement the Change.
That had never truly been fully part of his expertise. Of course, the Master Oracle was far more intimate with all of that. However, not every piece of that full record remained at its disposal. Certain records had been more broadly distributed over the passage of time. Even so, the Master Oracle held most of the core essentials of that, if not all of it.
Of course, not even a Master Oracle could hold the great expanse of earlier record of all detail of all things. The surviving Oracles held a great deal of knowledge and record, but not everything. With the loss of the Orbital Station, Olympus, and other locations, that couldn't be helped.
Over the course of time, whatever could be retrieved or reconstructed would be attended to the best of capability. The journey ahead would be a long one.
Though Chronos would eventually encounter some of those individuals that Avrum had suggested, he would mostly remain only in the company of Oracles and their automatons for some time to come.
He would eventually encounter Garend, an unchanged Gielaan who had survived on the continent to the south. Though sympathetic to what Chronos and Oracles pursued, Garend offered little in the way of assistance. He'd remained more motivated in his ongoing search to find others of his kind. Apparently, that search remained a mostly frustrating one.
Chronos also eventually encountered that Titannian that Avrum had mentioned. Of course, that had been Corineus.
Corineus had offered some details for the record that might have otherwise remained completely unknown to them. Still, he'd not contributed much in other more practical matters, such as Chronos might have better appreciated. The Titannian offered to pass on historical record that he could acquire from certain places, but otherwise preferred to continue his path of wandering the world.
Though assisting Chronos whenever he was present, Avrum frequently pursued his journeying into future timelines and returning with cryptic suggestions and advice, commonly withholding some details that might be considered far more useful in Chronos' estimate, but considered unwise to share by Avrum's sensibilities.
Many, many years would pass before what was being worked toward would come close to fruition. The world would become a very different place by that time.
Over the longer period that followed, a record of the unfolding development of the many cultures of the world continued to be made. Although, with far fewer resources at hand, that record was far more broad than some earlier efforts. Much of it would actually come from the record of mundane historians, rather than more independent or objective observation.
Still, for a time Corineus continued to travel widely. Despite his wandering ways, he had made some significant effort to contribute to that record. He had even consented to carrying a Remote Oracle with him at times.
However, given that he was an aging unchanged Titannian, by his choice, and not of the longest living lineages of his race, he would not even live long enough to see far beyond the earliest years of what would later be characterised as the European Renaissance.
As I suggested, more of the broader record was gathered from the writings of historians of the more developed civilisations. Although such information was often coloured by the bias of a particular culture, it served to provide for a somewhat adequate record.
Though I was not effectively present to witness what unfolded over the centuries to come, I'd eventually held opportunity to peruse both the records held by Oracles and what came to be the record of the modern world. Combining those things with what I'd experienced beforehand, I could capture the likeness painted in broad strokes. At least from a certain perspective.
Although there were many varied cultures that waxed and waned throughout the world, for a time, along with some others of notable substance and influence, the two greatest forces of unified civilisation continued to be those of the Roman Empire and the far-eastern Empire.
The Empire in the east would go through various changes and face challenges, both from within and without. Nevertheless, it was a culture that generally changed only slowly. One with a great deal of inertia behind it. In one form or another, it would continue to endure the passage of time. It would outlast many others, effectively surviving into the modern age in some fashion.
Aside from a short period, when the rule had been briefly usurped, the Han had continued to hold dominion over that region. A great part of the success of their culture was the manner in which the earlier ideals of Kongfuzi had become integrated into the management of their system of government. Although that circumstance would eventually pass, another would arise to take its place. In that manner, the rule of the Han clans would also be eventually replaced by that of others. The appearance of empire would wax and wane over the years. At times, even coming under threat from the nomadic hoards of the north-west. Various other peripheral territories would stand apart as independent lands, only indirectly influenced by the core region of the middle kingdoms. Nevertheless, that civilisation would go on in some fashion.
The Roman Empire would face a far different future. Although its legacy would be carried forth into the modern era, the Empire itself would not endure. Given that I'd more thoroughly examined the fortunes of that entity during earlier times, I'd paid some directed attention toward what had eventually become of it.
The reasons for the ultimate failure of that civilisation are many and complex. In many respects, had those factors been addressed more effectively, I'd have thought that it might well have endured far longer.
As I'd earlier anticipated, one such factor could be said to lay with the legacy of Octavianus, in his role as Augustus Caesar. Although his pragmatic efforts had served to greatly stabilise the Empire, what he had left in place had served to directly tie the fate of their civilisation to that of an unelected Emperor. Some of those that immediately followed him, had nearly destroyed his work upon more than one occasion.
After nearly a century of dubious management, a series of more effective Emperors emerged. During that period, the Roman Empire apparently seemed far more likely to succeed into the future.
However, there were still several factors that undermined such a future. The Empire had seemingly grown far too large to effectively manage itself from a central seat of power. That had played a part in the difficulties that would follow.
On the one hand, there was reluctance to expand the Empire into adjacent territories because of the existing complications of current management. However, upon at least two fronts, those neighbouring territories presented a significant threat from without.
Along the easternmost borders of the Roman Empire, the Greco-Persian Parthians presented the greatest threat. There had already been numerous conflicts over territories of that region, going back to Augustus' time. Much of it arising from memory of even earlier times.
Given that peaceful relations seemed almost impossible, the most politically sensible move would have been for the Romans to firmly engage and conquer the Parthians, forcibly folding them into the expanse of the Empire. Such a thing would not have been easy. However, the elimination of such formidable opposition would have been far more likely to serve Roman interests than the alternative of perpetually reigniting conflict.
The other obvious concern lay to the north of the Empire. That circumstance could have been far more easily resolved, if not for Roman hubris. Since the time of Octavianus, no effort had been made to expand the Empire beyond the northern borders marked by the rivers Rhine and Danube.
Effectively, the tribes of the Province of Gaul had been fully Romanised, ending the tribal wars and bringing peace and order to that region. However, north of that region were numerous Gothic tribes. Earlier Roman military efforts had failed to conquer those tribes, and subsequent regimes had largely left it at that. The Roman Empire had sought only to keep them at bay. In fact, a great deal of effort had been expended to maintain that status quo.
The more interesting aspect of that circumstance was that many of the people of the Gothic tribes had actually wanted to migrate to the Roman Empire. However, the Empire did not want them. In my view, the wiser strategy would surely have been for the Romans to embrace and absorb those territories and their peoples. Again, it would not have been so simple a matter. Still, the reward would have eventually overwhelmed the expense.
Another factor had already served as a notable difficulty for the stability of the Empire. It had begun in the near east, but had gradually begun to spread throughout much of the eclectic Roman populace.
Setting aside certain circumstances that none involved could have known of or even comprehended, it had begun in the Roman held territory of Judea. After the ill-advised crucifixion of the Judean prophet, his followers had continued to spread their religious faith, perhaps with even greater vigour. Although that religion had developed into many varied versions, in one form or another, it had managed to permeate many of the Roman provinces.
Although the Romans were generally rather tolerant of the specific religious beliefs of the various parts of the Empire, that particular one had not been so well tolerated. Realistically, it was more a political issue, than one of spiritual belief.
During earlier times, it had been a similar case with the Druids of the Provinces of Gaul and Britannia. The Romans did not really object so much to the spiritual beliefs of the 'Celtic' cultures. It was more that the Druids actively served to undermine the authority of Roman rule; and that could not be tolerated.
That was the predominant objection to the emergence of the so-called 'Christians'. The followers of that religious movement held to the belief that the prophet, 'Jesus of Nazareth', was the mortal son of their one true god, and the King of the Judeans. Hence, the title of 'Jesus Christ', the King.
As such, the most devour followers of that faith rejected all other rulers, and all other gods. That served as an open challenge and offence to the sensibilities of Roman rule and the orderly maintenance of Roman law. Accordingly, several Roman Emperors had expended a great deal of energy to discourage that movement.
Nearly three hundred years after Augustus, the current Roman Emperor acted with the general support of most common Romans, and eventually declared an outright ban of all Christian worship. Apparently, he'd believed that would serve to put that matter to an end.
During his rule, he turned more of his attention toward the difficult issue of resolving the problems of managing the Empire. He proceeded to reorganise the governing structure of the Empire. He established a more decentralised system.
The Provinces were subsequently divided into smaller units. Each of those units, with its own local government and army. He also appointed another to serve as co-Emperor. He served as the ruler of eastern part of the Empire, as the co-Emperor ruled the western part.
In theory, such a system should have provided a model that would justify further outward expansion. However, such a thing did not come to pass. In fact, that system did not last for so very long at all.
In 324CE, Emperor Constantine, ruler of the western Roman Provinces had overthrown the co-Emperor, claiming the whole of the Empire under his rule. About a decade earlier, both Emperors had agreed to concede to the spread of Christianity throughout the Empire. In due course, Constantine actually chose to embrace that faith as his own. During that period, he had forced the many factions of the Christian movement to come together and establish a single formalised version of their faith.
Shortly afterward, Emperor Constantine relocated the seat of his capital from Roma to the eastern city of Byzantium and renamed the city Constantinople.
After the death of Constantine, his three sons and two of his nephews fought for control of the Empire. The Roman Empire again stumbled throughout that period, but did not fall. Even though at least three had simultaneously claimed the title of Emperor.
After a period of about twenty years, one of the nephews, Julian, finally became sole Emperor. During his rule, Julian had tried to discourage the spread of Christianity and restore the traditional Roman religion. Apparently, that did not last long at all. Thirty years later, Christianity became the official religion of the Empire.
During that time, the Empire had been again split in two, then again reunited. Finally, after the death of Emperor Theodosius in 395CE, the Empire was permanently split into the West Roman Empire and the East Roman Empire.
Throughout all those periods of internal turmoil, nothing of consequence had been done to address those external threats. In many respects, I suppose that I should be thankful that I had no opportunity to witness those times for myself. The Roman Empire should have held the potential to become the great unifying force of the western world. Instead, it had bumbled along, lost in the inertia of internal mismanagement and lack of vision.
The fall of the West Roman Empire had been a slow process. The long-standing failure to engage or embrace the northerners would eventually prove their undoing. Fifteen years later, Roman lands had been invaded and looted by Visigoth hoards from the north. That was a sign of things to come. Still, the Romans failed to provide any effective defence. The northern tribes proceeded to annex and carve up the northern territories of the Empire. The Romans did attempt to reclaim those lands, but it had proved to be a case of far too little, far too late. The diminishing West Roman Empire endured under it own inertia for another sixty odd years, before the final Emperor was removed from the throne by the northern invaders.
The East Roman Empire survived for a longer time. Although it would only do so as a far lesser entity. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the east had actually enjoyed a brief period of resurgence. However, that did not last. Under steady assault from Arab lands from the south and east, the reach of that eastern empire had contracted. Then, for a time had again resurged in strength. That cycle had apparently been repeated periodically.
Although it outlasted the western empire by nearly a thousand years, eventually, even that eastern empire had fallen. By that time, it was more known to some as the 'Byzantine Empire', since it included little more than old Byzantium and a few nearby lands.
Shortly after the fall of the West Roman Empire, most of Europe had fallen into a prolonged dark-age. Aside from the collapse of the order that had been imposed by the Romans, a darkness of other sorts had afflicted that region.
The eruption of volcanoes, in particular, that of one of especially massive intensity near the equator, had thrown great volumes of particulate matter into the atmosphere. A great deal of that had been blown to the north and had greatly affected the weather patterns of the northern hemisphere. The days had indeed grown more dark. The winters more harsh. Crops had failed over vast areas. The northernmost regions had become even more inhospitable.
Southern migration of both man and beast had resulted in even further stress to already stressed lands. Reportedly, the population increase of the broader European regions had halted and then reversed.
As the darker skies began to ease, the rebuilding of the west gained pace. However, with many new and different lands emerging. The central Roman region had begun to slowly recover under the principle leadership of a religious ruler of sorts. Many of the Gothic lands had begun to coalesce into formal kingdoms. The region of Gaul had been conquered by Frankish tribes and had also formed similar entities. The same had occurred upon the Iberian peninsular. In fact, that had been the case throughout most of Europe.
It was even the case upon the Isles of Britannia. Although that had been markedly influenced by repeated invasions from the European mainland. Some from the northern lands about the Baltic Sea, and some from the Frankish regions.
Less than two centuries before the fall of the Byzantium Empire, a new threat came upon the lands of Europe. Indirectly, it was due to the one thing that had come to tenuously link each of those lands. By that time, the religion of Christianity had become the formal belief of nearly all of those neighbouring European lands. Upon the call of the Roman Pope, many of those lands had unified to mount a campaign against the Arabic peoples that held the lands that gave rise to their common religion.
Those campaigns, or crusades, as they came to be known, had failed to achieve the proscribed goal. More than that, a deadly disease had been brought back by those that had returned from those campaigns.
Those plagues affected different regions more than once and served to diminish the overall population growth of previously densely populated areas.
The European region would begin to slowly recover and continue to gradually change until almost another thousand years had passed.
Broadly speaking, during that passage of time, there would be a fresh age of rediscovery, where knowledge that was once held throughout the regions of the former Roman Empire was again regained and built upon, leading to further discovery and understanding.
A great shift in perspective unfolded in the wake of the discovery of the 'new world'. That of the American continents and then a little later, those other larger landmasses located in the southern oceans.
Perhaps not so different from much earlier times, there were further periods of warfare as various powers struggled against one another and fought over territories and resources. Much of that directly related to that new period of conquest and colonialism across the seas.
Over that lengthy passage of time, the face of the world had finally again reached a point comparable to earlier times, though spreading across a far greater area than ever before, bringing certain cultures into contact, where nothing of consequence had previously existed.
Rather than again stumbling and falling into immediate chaos, the tenuous state of affairs held together in some fashion. In certain regions here and there, uninterrupted periods of ongoing development gave rise to further development and the sustained rise of both manual and mechanised industrialisation.
Following the trajectory of political inertia, a sort of nationalism emerged as the dominant progression across parts of the world. Unfortunately, that progressively led toward more periods of warfare, arising from a broad variety of influences.
By the time that I would firstly learn of it, almost the entire world had already become embroiled in widespread warfare upon two occasions. Though the people of the world had surely gained the capacity to walk a far different path, it largely seemed that certain aspects of broader civilisations remained destined to repeat the many missteps of the past. I would experience a great feeling of ambivalence over what I would observe in due course.
Still, at the time, none of that was known to me. In due course, I would eventually learn of what had come to pass. Although in that case, I would only do so through the comparatively dry record left behind. Not quite the same as having lived through it all. Still, it would be quite some time before I would again walk the world. Almost two thousand years. As I slept, the world continued to turn.
Afterword: If you made it this far, feel free to pass comment (whether privately in PM or publicly by Review). As always, special thanks to those who provided assistance and advice during previous drafts of this story. The broader story continues shortly in "Of Man and Gods - Legacy of the Alliance" (Book3).
If it's of any passing interest, my more character-driven tales set in The Elders Scrolls universe can be found on the fanfiction sister site under the same author name (SuperGreG). Though set in an existing universe, my stories over there are original tales, featuring predominantly original characters.