Inscrit le: 19 Sep 2009
Lun 28 Sep - 00:42 (2009)
The Disciples of the Void
The Disciples of the Void believe that the inhabited universe long ago became far too noisy for people to hear God. The bustle and chaos of everyday life drowns out the divine. In order to truly hear the voice of God, one must go to the depths of space, to the billion-light-year voids between clusters of galaxies. In these dark and quiet places, the Disciples have their Anchorages, and listen for the creator’s whispered words.
Disciple Anchorages are among the largest space stations in the universe, carved from massive asteroids and wormholed into the unbelievably vast voids between the galaxies. They are nearly self-sufficient, save for fuel — the Disciples do not maintain the level of technology and infrastructure required for matter/antimatter inversion, and must have such fuel imported.
The interiors of the Anchorages are elegant but mostly empty. The interior walls are filled primarily with sound insulation, noise-canceling speakers, and more, which results in a claustrophobically quiet environment. The Disciples wear black robes, and even these are filled with nanotech designed to keep any heat, sound, or other evidence from betraying their presence. Their symbol is a faint, barely visible ring of white stars on a black background, the only form of decoration one can find in their habitats.
The Book of Stillness is their holiest document, filled with revelations that their past prophets and holy men have received after floating in the depths of space in vacuum suits. The book, written in ultraviolet ink on black paper, describes a philosophy of stillness in mind and body, to promote a unity with the void itself and escape the false and clamorous universe that most people experience.
Each Disciple awakens each morning in silence, darkness, and the absence of gravity. They float in the middle of their room, which has been watching them carefully all night, using the gentlest tugs of gravity beams to keep them from bumping into the walls. Disciples sleep in the ultimate silence: the absence of hearing, vision, and touch. As they awaken, the room slowly increases the gravity, allowing them to come to rest on the floor.
Dressing in plain black robes, they leave their rooms for the corridors. Despite excellent sound insulation and vibration-damping materials, one who is accustomed to the silence can hear the hum of the Anchorage’s power plant, the rush of water and other fluids through piping in the walls, and the simmering sounds of breakfast cooking.
Breakfast is simple, though not entirely bland. The Disciples grow herbs, spices, hot peppers, and more hydroponically, to supplement the output of their relatively basic replicators. After breakfast, the Disciples go about their daily business.
Prayers are read at midday from the Book of Stillness. Each person picks a passage to read, and discusses it with those nearby. Very few Books of Silence are in the single-sheet electronic format so common elsewhere, although this is more out of tradition than anything else. Disciples speak to each other exclusively in a sign language, and only those who visit the outside world learn to speak aloud. Their written language mirrors their signs relatively well, and is more akin to hieroglyphics than to alphabet-based writing.
Not every Disciple has the opportunity to experience the void — to float in the depths of space, far from the light of the galaxies, and listen for the voice of God. Those who give their time to aiding the faith receive credits towards a spacewalk, minute by minute building towards what most find to be a transcendent experience.
The Disciples interact little with the rest of the universe. Most of their imports come from the Stardwellers, who trade them antimatter in exchange for the Disciples’ excellent noise- and vibrationcancelling technology.
Travel to the Universe of Noise (as the Disciples call the rest of the universe) is not quite a punishment, but many see it that way. Disciple pilgrims are sent to discover the true value of silence by being immersed in noise. Most have real trouble acclimating to the crashing, screaming uproar that surrounds them at all times, and some do not sleep for a week when they first arrive. Many have neural meshes installed, to aid them in assimilating what they hear. Not all pilgrims return to their Anchorage — some come to prefer the Universe of Noise — but those who return often go on to become important leaders in the faith.
The Disciples have no serious allies or enemies, and are welcome in most places. As one would expect, their government is a theocracy.
Common Name: Disciples
Emblem: A faint ring of stars on an utterly black background, symbolizing the Disciples’ distance from the rest of the world. The civilization’s name is minimally lit.
Inspector Status: Advisor to local authorities.
Benefit: The robes and built-in nanotech of the Disciples allow them to use a Stealth skill at level 7. There is no training involved.
Core Values: Worship and Privacy.
Worship, amongst the Disciples, can be used to resist attempts to convince them that the universe of noise is a superior place, to resist commands to betray the Disciples as a whole or destroy a copy of the Book of Stillness, and to ignore sensory-deprivation attacks. Their particular version of this CV enables Disciples to find sensory deprivation somewhat comforting, and treat it as a form of meditation.
Privacy can be used to resist metatech attempts to convince the Disciple to allow him/herself to be recorded or surveilled. It is also used to resist someone prying deeply into a Disciple’s personal lives, including asking about their religious beliefs. Note that some Disciples are happy to answer these questions anyway — you just can’t force them to answer. This is somewhat hard to adjudicate, and covers many interactions; the GM should feel free to only apply half the CV rating during non-serious situations.
A Disciple’s Pilgrimage: Day 12
I am trying very hard to ignore the sounds coming through my earplugs. It is when I realize this that I know I have failed.
Master Xu always said that strain was a sign of failure; that one should accomplish all things without unnecessary effort and through the principles of Wu Wei, handed down to our order from the ancient sages on Earth. As I was told on the day I left, I have much to learn. Apparently I am not yet ready for streetcorner meditation.
I open my eyes to the glare and chaos that is the Eternal Masquerade. Thousands walk past me on the street; there must be more people going past today than live in my entire Anchorage. They all use the mouth-speech that I am attempting to learn, though many are willing to speak to me in my own language. They have meshes, and I do not, and so they accomodate me. They wear masks, finding faces... too vulgar? too intimate? I do not quite understand yet, but I wear one as well to make them comfortable. It is a simple black affair, with the symbol of my faith on it and as much sound-dampening and vision-filtering technology as I could afford. My cloak is still better, but this is a start.
Masters Yi and Gang tutored me in the ways of the universe of noise, but said that nothing could prepare me for the truth. They were right.
I have a job, for now. I work in a hydroponic farm, growing spices as I did at home. Here only the rich prefer hand-grown food; everyone else uses replicators. All the people here make far more use of replicators than we do, more use of electricity in general. I simply do not understand why they need all these things! Why do they not live more simply? Why all this chaos and cacophany at all times, everywhere?
A small group of passers-by ask if I am feeling all right, and I calm myself and assure them that I will be fine. They don’t believe me. I constantly forget that these people can read my expressions and body language without even trying. I can’t see their faces, or their infosphere tags, so I often have trouble interpreting them. This time I can’t convince them that I’m not agitated, which of course makes me more so, and eventually I allow them to take me away from my street corner.
< encadré >
The Worship CV
Worship is a common Core Value for many civilizations and individuals. It indicates a strong religious belief, though the particulars vary from one religion to another. Some people follow religions from Earth, while others, such as the Disciples, have their own, more recent belief systems.
< /encadré >
They bring me to a park. I can still hear the wind over the pond, the birds screeching in the sky, but it is better here, and there is some shade and a tree I can rest against. They stand around me as I try to regain my composure, my face in the dark side of the tree. One of them touches my shoulder softly, and I know it’s just some kinesthetic trick of theirs, but I feel comforted.
They sign to me, asking if I have a place to stay and enough money. I tell them yes, and explain something of my pilgrimage. They seem to confer mentally, and then one of them hands me a card and tells me that I should call him if I am in need. That four strangers should show me such kindness when tens of thousands passed me by... I may just call him anyway, to talk. I thank them as they leave.
I stand at the edge of the pond, eyes open, all noise filters off. I seek the silence within.