Friday, April 14, 2017

Sharing is Caring, Always

I mentioned in my last post that I got a couple really terrible sets of words from my kith. Today's post is the second of these.

I, sharing, oh, you, always, warning, PETA

This is considerably better than yesterday's batch. There are only two pronouns and one interjection. I can't use the same device for "I" that I did yesterday, because that would be cheating. Fortunately, I came up with a different solution, balancing off PETA. "You" was incredibly difficult, though. I still feel like I kind of flubbed that one.

The inclusion of PETA makes me want to make it a modern setting. I haven't done an urban fantasy yet, and I love those. (Fair cop, I cribbed a bit of this from another urban fantasy setting I've been poking at.) And "always" kicked off the thought process...

Vampires. Faerie. Angels. Gods. These beings have two things in common: they look human; they don't age. This is not a coincidence.

Alongside our reality lies another, that plays by much different rules. It is not physical, as we understand it. It also does not seem to follow the same rules of entropy, and hence exists "outside time". It has been called many things by many people, from heaven to faerie, from astral to dreamtime. Since it's timelessness seems to be its most important characteristic, we refer to it as The Always.

There are beings within The Always. They are beings of pure spirit, having no physical forms, that we refer to as the Yonder. They are completely incapable of interacting with the material world except through a physical host. With few exceptions, the chosen host is a human. While the Catholic Church chose to (literally) demonize this relationship as "possession", it can only be entered into voluntarily. As such, we prefer to call it "sharing". The host gains a number of enhanced abilities, and the yonder gains the ability to act in the material world. Frequently, this is a win-win, so long as both parties act in good faith.

Unfortunately, for reasons we cannot entirely understand yet, there is a faction of the yonder that does not prefer to act in good faith. They have acted many times over the centuries to attempt to gain dominion over a number of other humans. Their weapon of choice in the past has always been religion, in which the sharing host gains the ability to "prove" his or her divinity through "miracles". They then target a number of humans who are highly motivated but also highly gullible to form a powerful cult.

In modern times, they have found that cults, while still easy to form, have only limited reach. Political groups, particularly those around focused issues, can gain much more influence without being dismissed by more "rational" humans. The most powerful front for enemy yonder currently active is PETA. While its nominal front is about protecting animals, the yonder infiltrated early on and crafted its media presence to be deliberately inflammatory. As such, it has attracted a number of very driven members who tend to act from emotion rather than thought, and are hence easy to manipulate. By encouraging efforts like attacking ships at sea or raiding laboratories, they are able to fund and execute a number of operations under the guise of protecting animals.

PETA isn't the only force we have to contend with, though. In China, a very powerful yonder is sharing with a host named Chao-Xing Oh. Miss Oh has a number of abilities focused around seduction, psychometry, and telling the future. As such, she has rapidly come to build a powerful empire in the underbelly of black market intelligence trading. She has a number of other yonder working for her, including one who has granted his host the ability to commune directly with computers, giving her empire unprecedented hacking capabilities. Naturally, her activities are ones that do not flourish from too much exposure, and her circumspection limits her reach. But her wealth, connections, and vast store of blackmail material makes the Oh organization a tricky opponent to manage.

There are also organizations that are theoretically our allies, but we do not always see eye to eye with. For instance, the American CIA has a unit specifically assigned to rooting out threats from The Always (which they have conveniently named a foreign territory for purposes of their jurisdiction). The Yonder Operations Unit, reduced to the three-letter acronym YOU in typical American style, is very effective at eliminating yonders and their followers. However, they are neither subtle nor discriminating. As such, we frequently find ourselves doing as much work to rein in YOU's activities as we do tracking down the yonders themselves.

At this point, you may be asking who we are. You have been recruited into the ranks of Division I of Interpol. The I stands for "immortel", the French word for the yonder. Much like YOU, Division I is tasked with tracking and neutralizing yonder threats. However, there are two important differences. First, as part of Interpol we are first and foremost a law enforcement agency, and not a paramilitary or intelligence organization. Second, we recognize that yonder come with a similar range of respect for morality and legality as humans. There are several that we have allied with in our efforts. Indeed, if you are willing and pass the required psych evals, you may end up sharing with a yonder yourself.

These efforts have become increasingly important in recent days. As mentioned earlier, The Always exists outside of time as we know it. As such, we can glean some information about future events from our yonder partners. We have received a series of related prophecies recently that we refer to collectively as The Warning. The next few years represent a key moment in human development. Negotiated ideally, we stand to step forward as a race into a bright new future. Handled poorly, and we could see the collapse of modern civilization or even of humanity itself. The Warning is deliberately cryptic, as prophecies must be to prevent causality loops. But we have a number of analysts working around the clock to identify events and trends that we need to ensure are handled optimally. As field operatives, you will occasionally get directives from The Warning that seem peculiar, counter-productive, or trivial. I can assure you, you must take them all deadly seriously.

The fate of both our world and The Always depends on it.

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