Chapter 1: A single page- torn, crumpled, a note at the end
Before you read this book, there are many dangers associated with the study of War history that you should be aware of. It is commonly known that the study of War history is factionalised to the point where a debate between two different historians is essentially a micro-scale replica of the War itself. This is inevitable when discussing a War between competing perspectives on history. However, the War time powers themselves are aware of this, and may take action against you. In such a War, observing it can by its nature affect the War itself, and the powers in question may think of you as having hostile intent. Moreover, as much as you may be tempted to work on behalf of one of these powers for protection: this will make you a target for the other powers.
A lesser known danger of the study of War history is temporal perception syndrome. Similar to the states brought on by reading texts such as the Necronomicon, temporal perception syndrome describes a state wherein the subject in question believes that they are seeing the nature of the War itself change around them after having read a new perspective on the War. A number of War historians argue that there is no functional difference between experiencing this syndrome and indeed observing a change in the nature of the War, and as such it can be difficult to determine whether you have observed a genuine change in the War or if you been driven to instability. It is worth pointing out that this has occurred from merely reading a book on the War: a number of readers of the Book of the War for instance have insisted that entries have appeared in the book after several prior readings of it. Depending on the culture of the readers, numbers of those affected vary from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 1.
If you have studied War history previously, you will be aware of many other syndromes not listed here. Most famously, Doctor Saul, the founder of the War history sub-field of War Temporal Geometry, appeared to keep his stable mental state after perceiving the “outside geometry” of the War, only to become unstable when trying to create a model of the structure: eventually resorting to using his own circulatory system to model the War. However, these syndromes are specific to select fields and sub-fields of the study of War history, and therefore will be dealt with in the sections of the book they are most relevant to.
- Taken from A Critical Introduction to The Discipline of War History, 6th edition. Such warnings have existed since the early days of the War, though they only became ubiquitous after the War’s fifty-third year.
Chapter 2: Rejected Entry from The Book of the War- editor's note reads "Limited relevance"
Gigantism [Great Houses: Culture/Technology/Terminology (Pre-War)]: It is commonly acknowledged that the best defence of megafauna is that their sheer size makes them highly difficult if not near impossible for any predators to actually prey on them. Pre-war, this was the main defence for the ships of the Great Houses, wherein even their most stealthy of ships hid labyrinth upon labyrinth with seemingly no end. Of course, it is debatable whether this could be called a defence in the conventional sense of the word. Indeed, one is tempted to suggest that it is simply the fact of being the Ships of the Great Houses writ large, that is less a defence and more the simple reality of attacking a giant when you yourself are an ant.
That never stopped some lesser species from trying, of course. In practice, the ships being so large made them impossible to commandeer with the tactics of the lesser species, and the fact that the ships were made from history generally meant that little events of the future like, for example, accidentally picking up an especially angry warrior civilisation or two had already been taken into account in much the same way that all well designed buildings take into account the local weather.
Any invaders or explorers or drifters or hitchhikers would probably never meet a member of the Great Houses in person, instead being shifted to places in the Ship where they couldn’t do any damage. Left alone for centuries, the accumulated mass of these peoples would form so called House Fly Civilisations in the metaphorical gaps within the ship walls.
At first the House Fly Civilisations were occasional pests, though as House society started to militarise the Houses found other uses for them. The militaristic and exploratory nature of these civilisations made them perfect as a laboratory and garden to manufacture and grow the cultural armoury necessary for the War: certain tendencies being encouraged as humans selectively breed animals and plants, until the culture of these civilisations was perfect to bear the fruit of whatever cultural weapon the Houses desired.
Of course, when the agents of the Enemy started boarding these ships, the House Fly Civilisations were also perfectly useful as cannon fodder: being an easily accessed store of biological matter that could be quickly upgraded and thrown at those that tried to board.
Chapter 3: A draft history, author unknown
[The ending of the draft cuts off. It was found as several sheets of paper sealed in a scroll case made of mammoth ivory.]
Notes on Noosphere Ecologies: Wolves, Squid and Others
With the link between culture and biology being cemented by all powers involved in the War, it was inevitable that changes in any given planets noosphere would produce changes in the world's biosphere: relic sauropods retroactively surviving in the jungles of 1890s central Africa, the once fictional red weed taking on rude life in terraformed Mars, and long abandoned space stations growing whole ecosystems of animalistic abominations to unleash on anyone foolish enough to enter. Needless to say, most of these are created completely accidentally: the War has left many weapons hidden within human culture in ways comparable to ship wrecks or mine fields that last long after the initial clash ended; the decay of these weapons emerging in unexpected way.
That is not to say they don't have a wider effect. The coven-packs among the wolves of old europe, for example, were for a time a minor power in the War itself. Retroactively created as the rusting War machines left hidden in the dark ages for activation in the renaissance started to intermingle with the medieval fears and understanding of the forest and the wilds as a place fundamentally inimical to human life; the wolves from the wilds of France to the Black Forest of Germany to the Russian east woke with a cunning intellect and, understanding that the European project of taming the wilderness amounted to their extinction, mobilised for War.
At first, this was somewhat small scale: aristocratic hunting parties ambushed; merchant caravans disappearing in the dead of the night; saw mills sabotaged. The largest scale tactic at this point involved panicking a village's cattle to stampede through the settlement, followed by picking off the survivors one by one. Normally, this would have been the end of it: with the noosphere ecology disappearing as normal without any lasting impact. However, roughly concurrently in the timeline of the War: Faction Paradox agents in France, time active Mal'Akh cultists in the Balkans and individuals from the Order of the White Peacock in the Russian far east first learned off the Wolves' War and, feeling some degree of sympathy for and solidarity with their struggle, started to arm the wolves.
As it turned out, these 3 powers were the shifting boulders needed to start an avalanche. Local powers were the next to join in. Witch covens in the Alps, pagans around the Baltic Sea and heretics in the Pyrenees would first make temporary alliances and then, as their situation became more desperate, would throw their lot in with the wolves against their common foes. A number of well connected alchemists and occultists, upon discovering the wolves' bargains with Higher Powers, would trade strategic information for the any scraps of second hand rituals and sciences that the wolves had learnt from the elemental powers. The masonic lodges that would go on to form the British secret service starting supplying the wolves with their own rituals, hoping to destabilise their rivals on the continent.
Other Higher Powers would become involved. A number of posthuman factions, using the Pilot Coteries as intermediaries and seeing an opportunity to develop a power base earlier in history, started to make their own deals with the wolves; and the Celestis, already active in the time period, soon joined in. The Great Houses, seeing this as an equivalent of the Great Game the British and Russians would play in Central Asia, starting selling their own weaponry to the wolves in the hopes of competing with the other Powers for influence. Even the Remote would join the competition, understanding the scent trails of the wolves and subtle changes of the forest as just another kind of signal, and would start to offload surplus or sufficiently boring technology they had captured or salvaged.
With all this, the wolves would become creatures more shadow than fur, as much nightmarish concept as flesh and blood: living avatars of the wilderness as an antithesis of civilisation; yet also understanding every animal and plant and fungus of the wilderness as citizens of it to be marshalled and conscripted. The forests of continental Eurasia became a single unit where time and space was fluid, whole towns would sink into the wilderness and King's armies would march out to fight them and simply vanish as if they had marched down a great invisible gullet.
However it did not last. Ironically, the massive aid from the War time powers probably doomed the wolves even as it allowed them a fighting chance- before they were merely fighting against humans, but as they became increasingly time active they found that they were fighting against the shape of history itself and that they were no more able to defeat that than a river was able to move uphill. The weapon sales diminished: the Celestis grew bored, the Remote found more compelling signals, the Great Houses cut their loses as they realised how wrongly they misread the situation.
Of course, eventually the wolves lost, the local noosphere ecology that made them was closed off, and the whole conflict retroactively never existed. Many of the wolves escaped: most of the packs joined the Faction or the Order of the White Peacock due to their continued support for the wolves cause; other packs ritualistically committing suicide to be resurrected by Mal'Akh cultists in the far future.
Ultimately, almost all noosphere ecologies end like this: tied to the context that they are in, even those that make an impact inevitably collapse in on themselves from the moment that the cultural context that created them disappears. The only confirmed exception to this are the ecologies of deep sea cephalopods and in particular the giant and colossal squid.
Having previous had received relatively little interest from human culture previously: with the famous medieval kraken being described closer to norse misconceptions about whales than cephalopods; the cephalopod's tentacle would explode in human culture after the first world war- becoming a symbol of unseen, unknowable and fundamentally alien forces far removed from human lives, whether in satirical images of monopolistic companies or in the weird fiction of the post war writers.
The ecologies of deep sea cephalopods emerged as the logical end point of this cultural phenomena- hungry intelligences that grew up hidden away from sunlight; as much of an opposite to humanity as it can be whilst still sharing some kind of ancestry in the bacterial mats of the precambrian.
Needless to say, due to the fact that the noosphere ecology is stable it is generally agreed that it was made artificially, though the question of which side in the War did it is another matter. The biodata of deep sea cephalopods is inevitably so loaded with useful symbology imposed on them by humanity that most time active species with at least a passing interest in the War have at least dabbled with using it, and it remains a go to element of biodata hybridisation experiments to this day by all major parties.
That said, it is worth pointing out that in the timeline of the Great Houses, the retroactive creation of the deep sea cephalopod ecologies seems to be closely correlated to the first message from the
Chapter 4: Entry from The Book of Armaments (?)
[The Book of Armaments does not exist and has never existed. A sister compedium to the Book of the War was proposed to take a more detailed look at the weaponry used in the War, but the men who proposed it have been assassinated and work is being done to remove their history from the spiral politic with minimum disruption. However, the potential future of the book may have existed and through a combination of that future and notable absences in research portfolios of various War historians entries from the Book may be reconstructed- as the entry below presumably was.]
Verse of War [Faction Paradox/Lesser Species: Culture/Technology]: The history of the verses of war is difficult to describe, it’s possible non-linear nature makes the question of its origins as pointless as the question of whether the chicken or the egg came first. However, for the sake of simplicity, we shall start with the possible beginning of the Sokal Affair. During the late 1990s, the physicist Sokal wrote a hoax academic article in order to mock and discredit the postmodern and deconstructionist elements within academia. The article in question proposed that quantum gravity was a socio-linguistic construct with potentially liberating implications. Of course, the Faction, having a love of both alternative structures of reality and perversity in general, decided to take this hoax seriously.
This resulted in an explosion of theory and experimentation among both the Faction and the post humans they interacted with. The translation protocols of the Great Houses were classified as weapons over a vast number of post human worlds; whilst Faction linguists started working on the creation of several different languages for the purposes of engineering on the quantum level.
The historians of the Great Houses argue that this cultural explosion culmulated with the mass manufacturing of the linguistic star drives: Star ship engines, with artificial intelligence that is connected to the nervous systems and micro-noosphere of the crew. They work more or less by altering the language of the crew of the ship in order to alter and “loop hole” the laws of physics into moving the ship (ironically however, though it would spread like wildfire among posthumanity, the Faction itself wouldn't make use of them: technology suited for a space navy being fundamentally obselete to a four dimensional terrorist organisation).
This is, more or less, the House’s version of events, wherein an academic joke and the actions of perverse terrorists spread easily made linguistic weapons across post human space-time. However, the Faction has a different perspective. In particular, Mother Psalm argued that these Verses of War were in fact a natural extension of the practices of humans.
The first Verses of War, claimed Mother Psalm, were in fact a part of Irish history. Ireland, and the rest of the British Isles for that matter, are defined by being invaded by waves of new cultures. According to Irish mythology, the armies and heroes from these cultures would make war not only with conventional weapons, but with poetry itself. The most famous depiction of these Verses of War is actually from Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”: wherein Tom Bombadil first rescues the Hobbits from the song of the predatory tree Old Man Willow and later defeats the Barrow Wights song of the stars dying with a song of a man with a star mounted on his crown.
A more modern version of these Verses of War was actually written by Milton. When he wrote Paradise Lost, he hoped to recreate man’s fall from grace in the reader, in having them sympathise with Satan he seduced them before showing them how horrifying this actually was. In effect, the reader was made to relive the seduction of Eve and the fall of the Garden of Eden over the course of the poem. In the process, Milton had at least created the structure of a memetic weapon, if not a primitive linguistic virus.
Mother Psalm insists that the Faction was simply carrying on these human traditions, albeit with a spin of post modernism borrowed from Sokal’s hoax. More than that, she implied that the Verse of War the Faction pioneered was simply what humanity would have created were it not for the ghost point. In turn, she has been accused by House sympathising War historians of trying to ritualistically wed the histories of humanity and the Faction through this theory. Instead, they suggest that the Faction inspired the human traditions that Mother Psalm insists helped inspire the Faction. It is perfectly possible that both are true: in which case a future act by the Faction would have created the human traditions of Verses of War in time to inspire the past Faction. Given the time-active nature of the War, attempting to find a definite beginning to this history is essentially pointless.
Chapter 5: A Scroll of tanned Mal'Akh skin
[Where this is from is unknown, though it is obviously an internal Faction Paradox document of some sort: most likely from a sort of bestiary of the biological specimens kept in the Stacks.]
A Gluttonous Family History
Whilst transhumanism is generally agreed to have come crashing to a halt with the ghost point, there are nevertheless a handful of oddities that exist before the posthuman era. By and large, these are nothing to write home about. A major symptom of the ghost point is that the ruling powers within human society considered change, or even self improvement beyond becoming like themselves but “more”, to be beneath them, whilst those they ruled interpreted change and self improvement to mean becoming more like the ruling powers. In this environment, the notion of liberating oneself from ones biology and various other radical possibilities offered by transhumanity was utterly incomprehensible.
As a result, experiments in it were fundamentally stunted. Unwilling to risk changing their “selfhood”, it is difficult to find any genetic experimentation that couldn’t have achieved the same results just as well through environmental or educational factors. The most famous example were the ubermenchen military cults found in various human empires. Theoretically super soldiers created through genetic experiments, in practice every aspect of their history and subculture was explainable through having spent from the test tube to the grave as a decorated part of the military and through the entitlement that emerged from believing themselves to be more than human.
Of course, we ended up helping in the creation of the one exception. The Hinderman family were at the time a family of space age robber barons reigning over a planet sized company town, but the then patriarch Bill wanted more. He hoped to reign eternally as a Pharaoh of his planet’s past, present and future: a god king among mortals. For this effort, he enlisted the help of three little siblings from our family, sealing a pact with them to place himself as the true ruling power of his planet rather than someone who just happened to own it.
Everyone involved was surprised when, upon sealing the deal, the sky opened and 3 different versions of Bill Hinderman’s son, each at the head of a separate army, burst forth looking for conquest. The little siblings got away quickly, followed by several versions of themselves from the planet’s 3 futures, and, perhaps wisely, asked their Godparents to sort out their mess.
The planet itself was swiftly quarantined into a spare bottle a Father had lying around, and an investigation revealed that the 3 futures were created by the actions of the little siblings shortly after their pact with Bill Hinderman: one future where they felt they were not getting what they desired from their pact and so took to slowly sabotaging the project as a form of industrial action that got out off hand; the second where they were loyal to their “contract” until they destroyed their work out of frustration at Hinderman’s micromanaging; and a third where they decided the pact was a bad idea and instead decided to deliberately twist it as a sort of parodic temporal performance art.
As a result, the Hinderman family emerged as a cannibalistic Freudian nightmare, a repeated tale of the children of the “present” ruler rebelling and eating their father before invading their past and, now embodying their time, literally causing the planet’s future to devour its past before itself being devoured by its own future. As it stands, every second of the planet's timeline and an uncountable number of alternate “futures” have been integrated into this cycle, which shows no sign of stopping.
Aside from being a curiosity and “interesting mess” as one Father put it, we have little use for it. A few researchers have noted that the Hinderman timeline bears a degree of resemblance to space and biology that has been tainted by the Yssgaroth without its virulent nature, and that it might be possible to use as a “lab safe” substitute in some experiments, though since we have no problem with using the real stuff that is a moot point…
Chapter 6: Rejected Entry from The Book of the War- editor's note reads "Blatant Faction Propaganda"
Sociological Corruption [Faction Paradox/Lesser Species: Culture (Early War)]
- from “A Pict Song”, by Rudyard Kipling
We are the Little Folk—we!
Too little to love or to hate.
Leave us alone and you’ll see
How we can drag down the State!
Sociological corruption is a particularly nebulous and poorly defined term originally coined by agents of House Mirraflex on the outskirts of the Spiral Politic. These agents found that across a variety of these periphery worlds, whether post human or one of the other lesser species or of various hybrid cultures, had adopted a number of Faction rituals and practices whilst seemingly having little to do with the Faction. This even occurred in a number of cultures that had at first glance been deemed too conservative to embrace Faction culture on any level. The Faction covens that were operating in the area were no where to be found, and indeed had altered history to ensure that they never arrived in these worlds in the first place. The Mirraflex agents described this low level Faction activity as sociological corruption, and since then the term has at one time or another been used to describe most small scale Faction interactions with the lesser species.
Fittingly, most War historians now agree that the original case of sociological corruption was probably not intentional in the first place. To explain what probably happened, one must understand why the Faction have popular support in the first place. It is tempting to say popularism, and whilst this is on the right track it is also not quite the case. By the very nature of championing those without power one tends to anger those that see themselves as having power, no matter how small that power actually is. The Faction’s wilful perversity would only make this worse.
No, if anything it is the very small scale nature of the Faction that makes them sympathetic. This is not to say it’s because they’re the underdog of the War. Rather, it’s because they operate on a level that the lesser species are able to grasp. All politics is local, as the saying goes, and the Houses are by their nature and the nature of how they perceive the War more or less above local concerns whilst the Enemy are simply incomprehensible if not outright inimical to the lesser species on every level. The Faction however, by their nature as a guerrilla organisation and by the small scale nature of their rituals, simply have an easier time fitting into the local culture.
The ability to find a niche in the local culture means some interaction is inevitable, and, surprisingly often, the Faction are willing to help as long as they don’t attract too much attention of the other powers: sometimes for individual favours, sometimes to give the locals a reason to tolerate them, sometimes just because they happen to be bored and the request amuses them. Even if the Faction don’t help, the mere fact that someone can enter the lair of a Faction coven and talk to a leader of some sort carries symbolic power. With the other temporal powers, this by and large simply wouldn’t happen.
Even the Faction’s inherent perversity can actually be seen as beneficial, even in a conservative community. The local priest may not approve of the skull masked witches on the edge of his village, but he may disapprove much more of (for example) the way the village mayor has been treating his children recently; and though the priest may feel too bound by hierarchies and traditions to do anything himself it is still oh ever so easy to simply ask those witches to convince the mayor of the error of his ways, or if that fails to deal with him however they see fit. The very perversity of those witches means that they can work outside the culture as much as they can within it, which even the staunchest traditionalist can see the value of. Indeed some would say the more conservative the society the more necessary this sort of perversity: these being the kind of societies that would encourage wives and husbands to have affairs in order to blow off steam, to betray the family in order to save the family.
Combine this with the fact that Faction rituals tend to operate on a relatively easy to grasp symbolic logic, and some degree of cultural exchange is simply inevitable. Of course, if anything this is actually worse for the Great Houses than if it was some deliberate corruption. If it was simply the Faction utilising some sort of cultural weaponry, perhaps to test it or gain some strategic advantage or just to annoy the Great Houses, then it would simply be the fault of outside agitators disrupting the natural state of the spiral politic. The fact that even societies that should have been sympathetic to the Great Houses found Faction culture to have some utility is a powerful symbolic victory achieved completely by accident.
The anthropologist James C Scott once described a scene in a S.E. Asian village wherein a combine harvester got stuck in the mud of the fields it was meant to operate in. New agricultural machinery had not been welcomed into the village: not only putting locals out of work but also forcing poor farmers to take out extensive loans to either buy or rent such machines to keep up production. As such, the crowds that gathered to watch the futile efforts to pull the harvester out of the mud were firmly on the side of the mud. Perhaps something like this occurred in the minds of the Mirraflex agents, except even worse: the Great Houses having long since reached the point wherein trying to place a definite line between biology, culture and technology is pointless, one can almost imagine a House soldier in a similar situation to the harvester. Unable to adapt, unable to belong, technically able to kill the crowds gathering to laugh at their oppressor, but that wouldn’t matter as the damage is done. After all, a wilfully perverse criminal cult aren’t the unnatural, unwelcome things in the spiral politic: the Great Houses are.
Chapter 7: A Carved Mal'Akh Finger Bone
[A Mal'Akh finger bone covered in code, presumably as a handy guide for little siblings]
[Normally, the correct biodata key would allow the code to be read automatically, but since you lack it it will have to be decoded]
A Study in the Banal
- Inverse Conway's Law
Using a technology requires adopting the organisational practices and communication styles that made that technology.
- Anon, adding a footnote to Inverse Conway's Law
If a technology doesn't appear political to you, its because you are using the politics said technology implies.
Our family's claim that the ghost point fundamentally ruined almost all attempts at genuine transhumanist experimentation until the start of the post human era is controversial in some circles, and in all fairness there are a few edge cases to bear in mind. For example: the Heavenly Minds, as we have taken to categorising them, are a series of human era cases wherein the people involved ceased to be human in the biological sense of the word. However, we submit that these cannot be considered transhumanist success stories for the simple reason that they failed to transcend the human society that built them to any meaningful degree.
A quick study of their history is necessary here. The first of these came about as a result of human attempts to colonise the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter- the idea being that the asteroid belt communities would be able to provide a way point for ships hoping to gather hydrogen from Jupiter whilst also being just about close enough to the Sun for some use of solar power to be economical, and that a massive amount of wealth could be gained by mining the minerals in the asteroid belt and using the microgravity environment to build large ships without ever having to get them into orbit.
Needless to say, these plans hit reality like a car hits a solid brick wall. Though on paper the idea of hollowing out an asteroid to house people and generating gravity by making it spin is a relatively sound idea as far as they go, the society that the colonists and companies and governments involved hoped to build there was simply not going to happen.
By the time humanity had made serious attempts at entering space, their society was sufficiently complex that the average person who would become a space colonist had no input into making most of the goods they used nor any knowledge of said goods were made. Sitting at the end of a long supply chain of which they knew little, this by and large gave them the impression of a world without meaningful limitation- tellingly, every school of economics that was taken seriously took the world's resources to be essentially infinite. But as these colonists and their leaders entered the asteroid belt, they entered a world made up of nothing but limitations, where supplies of food and water was inevitably fragile and certain death could quite literally be a few feet away.
The sheer culture shock of this combined with the inevitable shortages of food, water and electricity to cause multiple rebellions, but this did nothing. Every story this society understood as having some relevance to this situation involved an individual seizing the power of whoever was on top in order to bring about a plentiful cornucopia that the corrupt leaders had been preventing. Unsurprisingly, this just ending up replicating the same structure and society that had brought about the rebellion in the first place.
After a series of revolutions and counter revolutions that ended up going no where, it was proposed that if heaven could not be created in the material world that it could be created in the virtual one. Following the logic that human personalities were a programme being run on the biological computer of the brain, once a sufficiently advanced man-machine interface was created all that was necessary was for one's personality to be uploaded to a powerful enough computer with a large enough memory, at which point they could exist in a heaven completely free of the material world.
Most of the asteroid belt's human population was swiftly taken in by quasi religious mania, and uploaded their personalities en mass whilst letting their physical forms be taken apart molecule by molecule for the computer's use. In the long run, the computer was no more inherently inclined to tell the individuals apart from each other than a person is to instinctively think of the ocean as individual water molecules that just happen to be together or any more than a person is to consider their separate thoughts as different entities from themselves. As such, the basic functioning of the computer lent in it to treating the individuals within it as part of its whole, and as a result the first Heavenly Mind was born.
Our family comes in here. A number of cousins had caught wind of this and, curious to see if it amounted to a genuine break from the ghost point, quietly created an small fork in the timeline from which the Heavenly Mind could be extracted without the Great Houses noticing.
The idea behind the Minds was not necessarily a bad one, but the Heavenly Mind our cousins picked up was a disappointment. Though its components were no longer human in the strictest biological sense of the word, and though it was theoretically intelligent enough to be on an equal footing with any of the higher powers, it had fundamentally failed to break past the cultural limitations of the ghost point, and as a result it could only be understood as being within the context of not just humanity but the specific human society that created it.
As part of a series of experiments, the Heavenly Mind was given a society to shape however it thought best. Without fail, no matter what environment the society was in, the Mind would set about recreating the specific post ghost point human society that utterly failed to survive the asteroid belt prior to its creation. When said society would collapse, whether due to the environment or other factors, the Mind would declared the collapse inevitable in spite of post human societies surviving in comparable environments with even less resources at their disposal.
Various other Heavenly Minds were created under similar circumstances in the human era, and we did investigate them. The second Heavenly Mind we found was far more vicious than the first due the environment it came about it. Instead of a simple collection of asteroid colonies, this Heavenly Mind came about on a generation ship: a slower than light speed colonising ship wherein the passengers would live and die through several generations before reaching their destination.
Here, all the problems with the asteroid colonies were combined with the pressure placed on the generations that didn't remember their home planet but wouldn't live to see the planet they were intending to reach and the dangerous tendency for individuals born after the first generation to perceive themselves as breeding stock and others as a potential meal. Between this environment and the smaller population making the pathologies of each individual stand out more as they averaged out within the Heavenly Mind made the second Mind comfortable with and prone to extreme levels of violence, but other than this the experiments putting it in charge of various societies worked in a similar way to the first.
This pattern, with only minor variations, was repeated with every Heavenly Mind which we investigated. Understandably, we have little use for them now we have studied and catalogued them, though we still keep them in the Stacks as a number of us enjoy finding new ways to try to make them useful or at least entertaining. The most recent of these, Godfather Morlock's "debate" with the original Mind on whether time travel was possible provided hours of entertainment before, in the words of one Father "the Mind realised that Morlock was taking the piss". If you wish to try something similar yourself, please contact the relevant staff before going into the Stacks. They'll appreciate more if you ask before hand than they will if you get yourself eaten by something in the Stacks and they have to clean up the mess...
Chapter 8: Rejected Entry for The Book of the War- editor's note reads "unproven"
Campbellian Paradox [Great Houses: Culture]
- attributed to Franz Grimm.
“The hero’s journey: where ancient gods and spirits, princesses and gate keepers all conveniently exist to help the village idiot in his quest to grow up”
The lesser species recruited by the war time powers are often primed for the War prior to recruitment by stories placed within their culture . As a side effect, it is common for such recruits to discuss time travel in terms of story telling conventions, leading to some odd choices in terminology among them. The campbellian paradox is more or less a perfect example of this. The term originated from late 21st century Earth among media analysts and critics and in its original form runs something like this: as a normally interesting character moves closer to the centre of the narrative, they themselves become less interesting and make the characters around them less interesting in the process.
The idea here being that as the original character is interesting in part because of how they interacted with other characters, in that they had their own goals that weren’t neccesarily opposed to the desires of the other characters but nevertheless caused friction with them. In moving closer to the centre of the narrative, the lives of the other characters start orbiting around the previously interesting one, steadily becoming more flat as the goals they once had start to relate more and more to the now main character. Meaningful drama that was once caused by these clashing perspectives is reduced to contrived conflict, the emotion that was once generated replaced by sentiment and narcicism. Even the main character dying fails to stop this, as it only means that the other characters would orbit the emptyness where the main character once stood.
Whilst the Great Houses themselves don’t use the term, the term itself being distasteful and the very notion of describing the intricacies of time travel with story telling devices being seen as insultingly primitive, the term is largely used to describe an alarmingly similar condition that has affected a number of House members since the start of the War. Of course, actual cases are relatively rare: House members often have reason enough to alter the people around them, generally paranoia related. Famously, in one supposed case it turned out that the House soldier in question had grown too attached to the first group of lesser species he had recruited, and was altering his later recruits to be more like his first ones after they had been removed from existence.
Actual cases of campbellian paradox involve the House member in question editing the people and world around them as unconciously as humans control their body temperature. Comrades finding their identities reduced to that of the House soldier’s friend/lover, soldiers on the other side of the War finding themselves warping into being the House soldier’s nemesis, and whole planets that having been briefly visited had taken to worshipping the House soldier as a messiah. The theoretical limits of this condition are unknown: the one case of it occuring on a large enough scale to affect the War was swiftly put down by Franz Grimm and there hasn't been another case of a similar scale since.
The causes of the condition in question are much discussed, but largely unknown. It has been suggested that Fermi Defence Protocols either malfunctioning or functioning far too well could cause it. Whilst the campbellian paradox does seem to be more common among House agents that have a timeship, there is nothing to indicate it as a sole cause. Some have suggested that it is a mutation brought about by the increasing number of experiments done with the House breeding engines and others have suggested that it is simply the House equivalent of narcisicism. Given its rarity, it is more likely to be the unfortunate combination of a number of factors rather than any solitary cause.
What it probably isn’t is a variety of the biodata virus. Whilst this has been proposed, it is exceedingly unlikely simply because no war time power have either the capacity or the desire to do so. The Great Houses, when not denying the campbellian paradox’s existence, find it frustrating in that it in making the lives of the lesser species mere orbits around the life of a single House agent it removes the very qualities that actually makes the lesser species useful. The Faction find it amusing in the abstract but incredibly boring in practice. The Remote have more interesting signals to follow. The Celestis resent the idea that some House agent could potentially make himself the centre of existence, mostly because that’s precisely what they consider themselves. The Enemy have not commented on it, but it is difficult to see how empowering random House agents with greater control of the world around them helps their goals.
This does not stop the paranoia of a number of House operatives regarding some impossible variety of the biodata virus. Ironically, this attitude has been known to tempt them to tinker with the biodata around them in the name of their own safety to such an extent that they end up mistaken as being affected by the campbellian paradox anyway.
 Even before the War, it was common for the lesser species to practice this among themselves. These stories, whether they be 19th century “boys own” literature or early 21st century American space opera tend to either invoke their respective nation’s own greatness or warn against its collapse, all against a back drop of an enemy defined entirely by how inimical it is to their nation’s values. As alarming as it is for lesser species to have the war time powers do it to them, it is quite common for the Great Houses to justify such tactics by pointing out that as these potential recruits have comparable relationship to this sort of propaganda that fish do to water, they’d probably end up dying in a war anyway, so it may as well be the one War that actually matters.
Chapter 9: Entry from The Book of Armaments (Fake)
[The Book of Armaments does not exist and has never existed. There was no proposal for its creation, and no action was taken to stop its publication. None were needed, as no text for it was ever written. The entry below is obviously a forgery aimed at conspiracy theorists and the less acclaimed sort of War historian.]
Fermi Defence Protocols [Great Houses: Technology]: The question as to why humanity have not made contact with extraterrestrial intelligences yet has a poorly known solution in that such alien intelligences are so different from humanity that they’d be fundamentally unrecognisable as intelligent life to humans. Ignoring the fact that by the time this question was asked certain parts of humanity had been in contact with alien intelligences for some time, the sheer alien nature of other intelligent life forms should logically be as much of a problem for the Great Houses as it is for humanity, perhaps more so given the Houses' cultural sterility. In practice however, this is rarely a problem for them.
To explain further, this is not just because the Great Houses designed history or because House Mirraflex tends to exterminate intelligences that are insufficiently House-like (though these are undeniably both factors) but is also a function of timeships. It is common sense that they do not land in locations that are inhospitable for their pilots, but given the weaponisation of culture shock by both the Faction and the Enemy the timeship’s notion of “inhospitable” is a good deal more expansive than what the lesser species would assume. This results in the pilots being carefully sheparded away from anything truly alien, whilst interactions with the lesser species are kept unthreatening through the timeship’s particularly tactful (some would say censorship prone) translation capabilities.
Unsurprisingly, those subject to these defence systems have reported that they often have “quirks”. Members of the lesser species recruited as auxilia by the Great Houses or taken as pets by the various House renegades have noted that these protocols sometimes extend to them, with the timeships being reluctant to move to locations that are irrelevant to their species’ history. Some have even reported that travel within their own species’ history was “edited” for their comfort: their past experienced as a practice run for their own time, their future experienced as their present lasting for ever.
Also unsurprisingly, the lesser species have a number of conspiracy theories regarding these defence mechanisms, with varying degrees of accuracy. For example, the belief that some Houses are using a sort of inverted Fermi Defence Protocol as a weapon and interrogation device is true: the Faction has of course been using something comparable since the very start of the War, whilst House Xianthellipse has been suspected of using such devices to interrogate spies from other Houses for some time.
That said, it goes without saying that belief among some lesser species that the timeships may have ulterior motives in enforcing these protocols and keeping their pilots ignorant is utterly ridiculous. The claim that they are deliberately priming their pilots and human passengers for unknown purposes has been disproved many times over, and the claim that some timeships are using these protocols to stage and record “adventures” in order to indoctrinate entire populations of lesser species amount to nothing more than slanderous lies spread by the Faction and the Enemy. The very idea that the timeships may have created the Fermi Defence Protocols themselves in order to control their pilots amounts to heresy, and you would do well not to think about it.
Chapter 10: A Mal'Akh Fang, covered in runes
[A Mal'Akh fang, acting as a storage device for some little sibling of Faction Paradox, covered in runes that are ready to be decoded with the correct biodata key]
[As you lack correct biodata key, the runes will have to be decoded manually]
The Spirit of Steam
Contrary to popular belief, not all spirits are inherently sympathetic to our family, but most can be made to be useful. The spirit of steam is both a perfect example of this fact and the demonstration of how many limitations there can be when one has to treat these powers as things to be used rather than entities to be bargained with.
The spirit of steam emerged with the 1830s and the increasing adoption of the steam engine. The ruling classes had taken to fetishising the steam engine and steam power in general- seeing it as a tireless, all-powerful slave comparable with the wish granting Djinn from their understanding of Middle Eastern tales. In particular, the fact that the steam engine allowed factories to be set up where labour was plentiful and cheap (unlike the water wheel based factories, which were more restricted in where they could set up) was considered a blow against attempts of labourers to organise themselves: so that the capitalist could hire and fire 300 people a week and could be free from people objecting to little things like having to choose between death by overwork or death by starvation.
Needless to say, the spirit of steam is utterly useless when used conventionally, and this is derived precisely from how subservient it is. Anything that responds positively to the dominant, "correct" structure is going to undermine any attempt to subvert or uproot that structure whether intentionally or not, and a creature that lives but to serve will fall into being a cog in a greater system without thinking about it. In effect, even the most violent or treacherous spirit is superior to the spirit of steam, as they can be trusted to have a back bone.
That is not to say that the spirit of steam doesn't have its uses. We have several instances of the spirit of the steam in the Stacks after all, and not just for research or archival purposes. Hunting, whether mounted or otherwise, is an important component to many rituals; as is the use of symbolic substitutes for the real thing. Here the subservience of the spirit of steam comes into play: it is perfect for playing the role of various factors in maintaining the status quo. By hunting the spirit down, it is possible to force the present down timelines where the status quo has less stable pillars holding it up.
Of course, this ritual is not without its difficulties: most obviously, a body is needed for the spirit of steam to inhabit. Some covens place the spirit amongst a collage of machinery in the shape of a beast, but in a pinch someone could always volunteer to carry the spirit of steam. This of course has its own dangers, the ritual requiring at least the symbolic death of the spirit, but to families like us for whom not existing is simply a particularly good form of camouflage little things like death in controlled circumstances like these isn't too difficult to get around.
No, the more pressing danger of the Hunting of Steam is simply the same with all uses of the spirit of steam and arguably for all spirits: the spirit's fundamental nature opens the door for things going wrong. This time, the sheer centrality of steam to the dominant world view of the society that birthed it causes the problem: it was so ubiquitous that training it onto this or the other thing that's keeping the world together is difficult. With the ritual being so difficult to aim, the possibility of unintended or dangerous consequences is always a possibility: a number of unfortunate attempts to hunt the steam are suspected to have resulted in the late 20th and early 21st centuries inability to deal with climate change or the biosphere meltdown that accompanied it.
In spite of these inherent dangers to using the spirit of steam in any capacity, a number of witch covens on the margins of our influence have tried it. Perhaps the most curious of these misuses of the spirit of steam- one that didn't so much fail as such but instead arguably worked too well- was with Brookhaven's attempt to film an adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Brookhaven knew that the 1980s and 90s shift from an industrial society to a consumer society would inevitably lead to a different understanding of spirituality- as one member of Faction Hollywood would comment "telling someone that the God that gave them a conscience want them to keep their head down and work hard for their family is at least intuitive, telling someone that that God wants them to have a new phone every month, 50 cars and the company of a different hooker every night? They're going to think that's a bit of a stretch".
As such, in order to bring A Christmas Carol into the consumerist age and wed the story to the spirit of the 1980s he summoned the spirit of steam to act as the ghost of Christmas present. There is a logic to this- the ghost of Christmas present taking some inspiration from a suitably christianised Bacchus bringing the midwinter feasts and festivals, the spirit of steam combining the gift of plentiful production with the gift of modernisation was arguably the best replacement for any modernisation of the story to occur.
The result can charitably be called utterly bizarre. Between the traditional symbolic representation of Christmas as a time of transition between the last year and the new and the tautological nature of the present as being sandwiched between the past and the future, actually putting the spirit of steam in the role of the ghost of Christmas present had sent shock waves throughout the making of the whole film; whilst the servile nature of the spirit of steam both resulted in a complete surrender to the 1980s and the defanging of the script of any intentional satire inherited from the original story.
The precise time period the story took place in was blurred- select scenes suggest Dickens' Britain whereas others suggests Reagan's United States, but by and large these exist side by side: flat capped street urchins hawking newspapers under the neon lights of shady night clubs and decaying cinemas; yuppies and wall street corporate raiders drive past smoke stacks and top hatted carollers; and Mr Fezziwigg's Christmas party, which initially seems completely Victorian, has both lines of cocaine being consumed by the party goers and several go-go dancers performing there. Even with this in mind there are oddities: the scene where the ghost of Christmas present shows Scrooge what his nephew Fred is doing on Christmas day, for example, appears to take place at a seasonally themed gun show in 2018 Arizona.
The spirit of steam also threw off the characterisation throughout the whole story: Mrs Cratchit is a materialistic trophy wife who obsesses over outdoing her neighbours with regards to Christmas decorations; the ghost of Christmas past is an aggressively kitsch depiction of an infant Jesus as derived from the 80s religious right depictions; and every character with sufficient money takes cocaine- which makes the ham fisted speech in favour of Nancy Reagan's "Just say no" anti drug campaign even stranger considering that the none of the characters, good or otherwise, pay the least bit of attention to it.
The film goes through the movement of the original story but without any of the substance: certainly Scrooge starts off grumpy and ends the story happy but its difficult to see what, if anything, he learnt from this or why exactly the events of the story changed him. This, combined with the many dutch angles used in the film and the colour schemes and depictions of 1980s excess that verge on the grotesque when they're not outright embracing it constantly begged the question among those few people who did get the chance to watch the film: what were the makers of this film thinking?
This is probably why the film was never released or even properly edited for release, instead condemned to sit at the gates of Production Hell for eternity. Curiously, various edits of the film have in fact been show to some test audiences (an act considered less the film leaving Production Hell and more the audiences being temporarily imprisoned alongside it) which brought about the curious claim from one critic that the film was a bitter satire of 80s consumerism and the flattening effect it has on the already shallow Hollywood liberalism.
Though this was not the intended effect, later studies conducted on the test audiences suggest that variations of this theme would be the main thing the audience drew from the film: with the audiences showed a stronger reaction against perceived materialism after watching the film.
For example, surveys done years later showed that 15% more of the test audience joined monasteries, nunneries or other anti-materialistic religious establishments than the general population; 5% more of the test audience developed wealth or affluence related phobias; and at least 1 individual from the audiences has been established as having left their home country to join a Maoist insurgency...
Chapter 11: Rejected Entry from The Book of the War
[An editor's note suggests that this is a minor personality in the War, and realistically their simply isn't space for the entry given the scale the Book of the War has to cover.]
Franz Grimm [House Military: Participant]: Also known as Fransariaxianthelipse, though by the time he left the War only his superiors knew him by that name, was at first one of the more stable of the House Military’s fourth wave. A contemporary of Scarratt, though somewhat less notorious even after his fall from grace, Franz in his early forms took on the appearance of a 6-7ft tall human with a German accent.
If anything Franz, then still going by Fransaria, appeared to be a relatively conservative hybrid that had a primary function of liaising with the forces of the other Houses- something that could be familiar with the heterodox protocols of Xianthelipse whilst also being perceived as trustworthy to those outside of it. A living demonstration of the fact that the House itself had not lost it’s grip on reality. At first this functioned correctly: whilst still eccentric by House standards before his time, he certainly wasn’t unstable by the standards of the fourth wave. Even his experiments with the Sade Protocols only really raise eyebrows in hindsight.
All attempts to understand where all of this went wrong generally go back to an event early in his career. To quote Franz himself, after learning about humanity by fighting in the First World War under the name Franz Schulze he befriended a young man called Lorenze Sauer “in the time honoured manner of screwing each other senseless in a room above a Berlin cabaret”. Perhaps predictably, Lorenze was recruited by Faction Paradox under the name Cousin Sauer.
Oddly, the two kept in contact. At first this was covertly and quite limited, but this would become a daily occurrence when, according to eyewitnesses, Cousin Sauer was captured and imprisoned within Franz’s shadow. Precisely how this happened is unknown: whilst Franz was known for studying Faction technology, it is unlikely he did it to the necessary extent in order to do something like this at this stage in his career. The most likely explanation is that Sauer had hid himself in Franz's shadow in order to spy on the House Military, and that Franz merely ensured that Sauer couldn't escape.
Of course, this does raise the question as to why Cousin Sauer wasn't properly dealt with as spies and enemy agents usually are. Officially, the reason for this was so that Franz would have someone to interrogate regarding the Faction’s technology and tactics. Whilst those closest to Franz were of the opinion that this wasn't exactly false, they generally believed that there was more to it: simply put, they believed that Franz's past relationship with Sauer was never meaningfully left behind by either party.
This was not exactly false either, but a look through Franz's actions throughout the War suggest another reason. Simply put: war is never static, and it helped to know someone on the other side in order to arrange the temporary truces and ceasefires neccesary for both sides to lick their wounds, collect their dead and prepare for when another enemy opens up a different front. This trait was essential to the Franz’s victory in the Narcisthal Incident, wherein he forged a temporary understanding with a Faction Paradox coven in order to deal with a particularly danger renegade House agent who had contracted a campbellian paradox.
Shortly after the incident, Franz would finalise his experimentation with the Sade Protocols, and took up the name Franz Grimm permanently. From here, his life only deviated further from what his House hoped from him. He began acting increasingly erratic, at times deliberately provocative and at times with little interest in fighting the War at all. His physical form was increasingly unstable: first he became a saurian faced titan oozing testosterone, then an ever shifting monstrosity of leather and chains, and finally made himself the fertility god of an otherwise insignificant human colony, his biodata inseperable from the colony’s culture.
Why this happened is unknown. Several of his superiors suspected that his increasing understanding of the Faction’s technology and tactics were effecting his judgement, a statement that may appear xenophobic to the lesser species but is understandable given the fact that for the War time powers there is no clear line between biology, culture and technology. Rumours passed among some of his contemporaries that whatever deal he made with Faction required him to sacrifice his connection to the Homeworld; others, taking note of his physical changes, suggested that he may have fused with his timeship to such a degree that there could no longer be said to be a dividing line between the two.
Of course, these questions will probably never be answered, given his disappearance. Far fewer people ask questions as to where he’s gone: at this point, those in the Great Houses that know of him were simply glad that he did. His behaviour was making the more conservative Houses view him as a potential fifth column, whilst even his own House was viewing him as at best an embarrassment and at worst a viper who’s inclined to bite the hand that feeds it.
Chapter 12: A Stick of Flame Coterie Incense
[You can’t help but double check to make sure no one is watching as you unwrap the incense. As paranoid as that sounds, you know that this is considered illegal by every government that dares to admit that it exists, so perhaps this caution is justified.]
[You light the incense, runes lighting along it as you place it on a holder. The faintly herbal smoke makes you feel drowsy, but you're still awake enough to hear the faint fiery crackle and still primed enough to feel the reality equations kept within the incense start to awaken.]
[You have have the feeling of having drifted off to sleep or near sleep, and when you awaken you have the feeling of being embraced like a child curled up next to their mother. You certain this isn't real- more the ghosts and shadows of things that were once real. When she speaks, and you're sure this feeling or shadow or ghost was once a woman, her voice carries the comforting spices of midwinter wine and the relief of shelter and fire after a trek through a snow storm.]
Would care for a story, O Best Beloved?
[You instinctively nod, not sure if you even could say no to such a cinnamon voice]
This is a story from the strange and beautiful times after Earth was nothing but dust and the first human empires had fallen.
And in these strange and beautiful times, across 9 little worlds in a tiny corner of the Universe, lived the Kafkaesques. A people ever so sensible and quite dull, far too respectable to join the rest of post humanity in their carnival of flesh and science and magic.
And why would they? After all, they knew they were the children of the Gods and made in their image, and that everything would be alright as long as they did as they were told and the right paperwork was filled in.
And the Gods loved them too- for they were a tide pool of stability amid the roiling chaos of post humanity. A little pocket of the God's Homeworld, amidst a horde of barbarians.
But these were the strange and beautiful times Best Beloved, and so this was not to last. For there were other Powers at work: factions cunning and clever; skull faced tricksters cast down from the Land of the Gods.
And it was then that one of these skull faced trickers brought a gift to worlds of the Kafkaesques: the ghost cargo.
Oh! It was clever gift Best Beloved. By itself the ghost cargo did nothing. But when the Kafkaesques found its power soon enough: for the iron cage of bureaucracy could not contain it.
No symbolism could be attached to it, subjective perspectives slid of it like as if it were slickest oil, and to eyes of paperwork it was rendered invisible: the hands of bureaucracy could not cage it any more than they could cage smoke or shadows.
It was not long, Best Beloved, when the gift had ended the quiet in the Kafkaesques' little tide pool of history, for it had brought their ruling powers to their knees.
As the gift began to spread, many Kafkaesques who didn't want to be quiet and sensible and dull anymore saw its potential: they became vandals and anarchists, strikers and criminals.
At their action, food rotted in the streets as warehouses thought empty turned out to be filled with stock invisible to the eyes of bureaucracy; transporting goods slowed to a crawl as ships and trailers were found filled with worthless cargo that may as well have appeared over night; roads and buildings and cities would fill with steadily accumulating cargo that no one had any use for or could fill in the forms to remove.
At the command of the Gods, the ruling powers of the Kafkaesques turned to setting the ghost cargo on fire. But as these are want to do, Best Beloved, the fires got a little out of hand. And those years of fire and turmoil, the Kafkaesques died, and rising from their ashes came the Flame Coteries.
Pyromancers and stellar engineers; hosts to a thousand cults to the Phoenix, to Horus and Ra, and to the Sacred Flame; an armada of blazing cathedral-warships and an anarchist explosion of art and culture and life; when the skull faced tricksters came to us again we welcomed them as liberators and greeted them with open arms and warmest hospitality.
And once again, Best Beloved, our trickster friends gave us another gift: just as they first liberated us from being a pet of the Gods, now they liberated us from the trap of time itself.
And so it was Best Beloved.
Our atomic armadas would sail upon time winds created from the gas giants they had made into stars: our inferno marching gloriously into the future and past...
... Our magician-spies would walk to certain death atop a flaming pyre and walk out into great fires of London and Rome...
... whilst our warrior-nuns would brand the equations of time ships into every inch of their skin and fearlessly fling themselves into the storms of time...
... The discovery of fire and explosions of Pompeii and Krakatoa would mark the births of knowing, unnaturally clever children- our prophets reborn to spread the holy words of the Flame Coteries to those too far in the past for a visit from the armadas...
... The most cunning of us all changed history so that the Kafkaesques faced their rebirth earlier, and had more territory when it happened. At our height, we were born in a fire that stretched over an entire galaxy...
... And as our birth retroactively became earlier and earlier, we begun to encroach on that dull stretch of time before post humanity: bringing our passion and poetry and star light where ever we went.
But alas Best Beloved! This was not to last. For the gods were angered beyond words: as we burned brighter than they ever could. And so, they declared that our fires be doused where ever found and our existence purged from history.
We fought bravely, we fought well, but the gods were too powerful even for us and our skull faced comrades. Our home land is lost to us.
But the story does not end here Best Beloved.
Our prophets and armadas are scattered but still here: building khanates and pirate colonies until we can get our homeland back.
We hide in the glare of the Sun and in the fiery mantle of planets, in the wishes made upon shooting stars and in the fire and passions that burn in us all.
Even now, our soldiers fight alongside our skull faced allies to rescue our home land from the oblivion the gods consigned it to.
And now, Best Beloved, we live within you.
As long as you remember us Best Beloved.
You'll hear our songs in the roar of the furnace...
Our sonnets in the crackle of the fireplace...
Our war drums in the sound of gunshot.
And we shall remember you.
I promise Best Beloved.
Our holy orders
Will visit you one day
As long as you remember us...
[The shadow fades, the incense having burnt itself out. You are alone, but undeniably warm and comfortable as you slip into sleep]
Chapter 13: Rejected (?) Entry from The Book of the War
[This entry was not technically rejected, as it was never received by the editors of the Book of the War, and investigation suggests that it does not actually have an author. Never the less, this anomalous entry appears to stubbornly insist on existing.]
Blight’s Heresy [Faction Paradox: culture]: Though most tacticians and theorists of the War have, following the example of the likes of House Strategist Entarodora, agreed that the War will either end in a victory so total that the victors become history itself or that it would end in the War being retroactively annulled, this is not the only theory. There are many, and the various lesser species thinkers that actually find out about the War are only too eager to add their own to the pile, but perhaps the most influential is the most alarming: Blight’s Heresy.
Created by Faction member Father Blight as a deliberate riposte to this school of thought, at its most basic it stated that by the very nature of being a War fought by the Great Houses it simply could not end. The sheer scale on which the Houses operate mean that every action they take has more unintended consequences than anyone can calculate, which results in the War spreading further. Were the Houses ever to successfully put down the Faction, the Celestis and the Enemy they would then have to contend with the entirety of space-time being set alight from both the shockwaves of these powers falling and the invading angry masses that were harmed in the process of fighting their original enemies. Indeed, Father Blight argued that this was already happening.
Adding in the time active nature of the Houses means the boundaries of this endless War are simply not stable. Whilst Blight allows that an end of sorts could exist where in all relevant sides retreat to lick their wounds and hide away from the War to such an extent that the a period of static battle lines and unofficial neutrality ensued, he insists that this would be temporary. The time active nature of the combatants would result in at least one side trying to gain access to this hypothetical post War universe, either to escape from the War in some manner or to attempt to gather reinforcements from their sympathetic inheritors and descendants, which would result in the enemies of this side gaining access to the post War universe in order to either counter the original side or use the same tactic themselves. This would continue until the so called post War universe was not in fact post War in the slightest: the future “end” of the War being pushed back eternally.
Moreover, Blight argued that the beginning of the War is also not static. By Blight’s time, it was not unknown for the War period to intersect with the pre-War period, but he took this a step further. By the very nature of the linear time, those that can access earlier in their enemies’ timeline have more power over their enemies’ lives, meaning that the nature of time itself pushes all powers in the War to access earlier and earlier into their own history, if not to hurt their enemy then to defend themselves. This results in more encounters with their past selves, resulting in more people pre War being made aware of the War before it even happens and therefore the “beginning” of the War being pushed to earlier and earlier dates. Blight even argued that most of the pre-War attempted incursions by the lesser species into House territory was the result of the then future versions of the Houses betraying or attempting to commit genocide upon these species, and the respective lesser species mistakenly attacking the rather alarmed and confused Houses from their own present.
Blight likened this steady spreading of the War at first to a cancer in the structure of space-time itself, before taking to describing the War itself as akin to kudzu growing across every possible dimension. Moreover, he would say that the War itself was functioning as a living organism with the the War itself being its “body”, the parts of space-time not yet at War yet adjacent to it (whether past, future or another timeline or dimension) being soil and nutrients in which it can put down “roots”.
At first, it was clear that Blight was not taking this theory seriously as such, at least not when taken to its furthest point. At first, it was merely an attempt at antagonising the House theorists. Indeed, he was rather alarmed when he found evidence that suggested to him that his theory was true. That is not to say it was true as such, but to the Faction such things don’t necessarily matter: perception of how things are being of great importance to the Faction, Father Blight was rather concerned about giving the War itself a life and intelligence of its own by encouraging it to be perceived as such by those studying it. Whilst one doesn’t get into the Faction without enjoying such things in the abstract (or at least the way these things annoy the Great Houses) such an entity was rather frightening to Father Blight in practice: his vision of a War without end essentially being the horrors of the Second Wave being visited on the Faction forever.
Father Blight’s horror eventually led to him committing suicide via time loop in order that his theory be trapped with him. Needless to say, he failed. At the present, both the Great Houses and most of the Faction are doing their best to ignore Blight’s Heresy, though some isolated covens and particularly war-like sects of the Faction have taken to believing in Blight’s Heresy and have granted the War itself a seat among the spirits the Faction would traditionally acknowledge.
Chapter 14: Redacted Entry From The Book of the War
[This entry was redacted from the Book of the War and history at large for reasons of Homeworld security. The copy below has been kept for analysis. See addendum for further notes from our own investigations of the topic]
Homeland Relay [Lesser Species (?): Group/Technology]: The story of the homeland relay should have been a relatively dull and simple thing from the so called "galactic empire" era of human history. At its most basic, each individual homeland relay was a small, mostly automated space station with a crew of 3-5 people.
Messages and news from Earth would be encoded as light, before being shot through a primitive sub-spatial dimension that would allow the message to move at even greater speed whilst avoiding the worst of the dust and radiation and other things that could distort the light. The message would be intercepted by another homeland relay, which would check the data for distortions, before re-encoding it into light again and shooting it on to the next homeland relay, on and on until its inevitable destination.
The homeland relays should have been just another symptom of the centrality of Earth in human thought at the time: as all roads once led to Rome, so all the homeland relays led out from and back to Earth, with even various rival empires and break away factions being fundamentally linked back to their homeland. By all rights, the homeland relays should have become redundant after Earth was destroyed.
As we now know, they didn't. Something kept sending messages to the relays.
Here information becomes scarse, until recently our main sources of information on the homeland relays and their inhabitants were the devastation they would leave behind: fake distress beacons luring in help that would never leave the space station; colony ships passing too close would find their hibernating passengers drained dry of blood and their corridors infested with strange carnivorous bats; nearby planets finding themselves visited by strange ships in the dead of the night, powerless to stop their townsfolk being herded into the ships and never seen again.
Strangely, the inhabitants of the homeland relays weren't the only thing that was changed after contact with this new signal: the local structure of space-time itself appears to have been affected. Visitors to the space around the homeland relays reported that light appeared to shine dimmer; whilst entropy seemed to take on increasingly aesthetic qualities; even death itself was a more negotiable concept for the lesser species.
We have more information from when the inhabitants took a more evangelistic approach: making the shift from space travelling apex predators to being the leaders of militarised religious sects. But even here direct information from them was cryptic, vague and usually overladen with mysticism; and close examination generally suggested that their rhetoric and explanations of their nature were usually crafted to facilitate an infiltration and high jacking of the local institutions and power structures.
A few general themes can be discerned from their sermons: claims that the Earth that was destroyed being a fake Earth, a course not meant to be taken, but there is hope as the armies of the real Earth were coming: a prince or a knight or a messiah carrying the blood of a dragon leading the charge. Drawing from this, the general consensus among later post humans is that the whole affair was a particularly bloody overreaction to Earth being destroyed- a sort of apocalyptic theology or inverted apocalyptic theology for a post apocalypse culture. Select War historians are less sure [data corrupted, unretrievable]
We can learn more from their impact: after converting the leaders at a local and planetary level they'd set up strangely hedonistically inclined theocratic states. These appear to have meant to be temporary: less meant to be a pillar of society and more as a way of preparing society for holy (or perhaps unholy) war. Both internal warfare against dissidents and cannibalistic crusades against nearby cultures were the norm, yet neither of these were the ultimate target: instead being a way of priming the population for what was to come.
Though it is not difficult to guess who this future war was meant to target, we do not have to worry: the homeland relay, the so called "homeland cults" that grew from them and their theocracies were largely exterminated by the House Military's second wave before they were ready for such a war. Doubtless a few relics remain, the Anticonvent culture, for example, was largely ignored by the House Military due to a combination of their isolation and comparative absence of bloodlust and war mongering instinct, but the days when these could have had an impact on the War at large are gone.
Addendum 1 [addendum uses common codewords- "Hand", shortened to "Ha", for the leader of field operations in this theatre of War; "Mind" being the collective statements of his superiors and shortened to Mi"]
Ha-- Circumstantial evidence suggest that earlier conclusions may have been optimistic- we know damage to space-time in affected areas was diluted and contained but never mended. Permission to reexamine second wave's data in conjunction with modern surveillance Y/N?
Mi---- Y- permission granted. [see addendum 2]
Addendum 2.1 [Timeline corruption- destroyed by interference earlier in timeline. We have preserved addendum from this timeline- see 3.1 for start of current timeline]
Ha-- It appears that there were more survivors from the homeland relays than previously thought. The cult known as The Lesser Brides has been confirmed as having survived- they appear to have altered the sub-spatial dimension the homeland relay used to send messages, essentially dragging at the very least the space station itself and a population of unknown size into it. An extended stake out found that they were leaving the dimension to collect resources and recruits.
Ha---- Further information will require the infiltration of the sub-spatial dimension itself. Permission to launch infiltration Y/N?
Mi-------- Y- permission granted [see addendum 2.2]
Ha---- The discovery of The Lesser Brides leaves open the possibility that other homeland relay groups may have survived. In particular, their use of sub-spatial dimensions may have been replicated by others, and may suggest that they have the support of some time active power. Permission to launch wider scale investigation with House Military heavy support Y/N?
Mi-------- Y- permission granted [see addendum 2.3]
Ha-- Infiltration successful- our agent is in the Lesser Brides' sub-spatial dimension and is sending reports to us. Posing as a local posthuman, he was initiated into a cult we had confirmed the Lesser Brides had been using as a recruitment tool.
Ha---- Initial description from agent follows, full log sent via [data corrupted- unretrievable]
Ha------ this log has come to my attention, and makes me concerned that our agent may be at risk of being compromised. Permission to extract him Y/N? Extract from log below:
"Imagine walking inside a tube large enough to fit a cathedral in: that you can see so high and goes on for so long that no matter where you look you get vertigo. Imagine now that gravity is subjective: that where ever you place your feet is down for all intrinsic purposes and, if you know how, you can fall upwards or sideways. Now imagine if this tube was filled to the brim with architecture built to take advantage of this. Domed temples floating in mid air- their insides painted in a colour you'd swear was midnight black were it not for the fact that it glittered. Impossibly tall towers- the bells at their top causing vibrations that cause chimes throughout the rest of the tower to sing for hours in perfect harmony. Canals great and small, whose ink black water flows smoothly even at right angles or double backing on itself- which after defying gravity in a thousand different ways proceeds to link back to its source in a sprawling möbius loop."
"There are people who have lived there entire lives here. The canals are dotted with boat houses and little Venices; every tower and temple is maintained and guarded by its own unholy order that grows most of their new members in vats; whilst the many parentless hybrid children are nursed and raised in crèches by what I believe to be the people closest to original Lesser Brides aesthetically speaking. The children are fed the Bride's milk as babies, are gently corrected as they consider rebellion, and diligently cared back to health as they fall sick. For abominations against history and nature, the Brides make for excellent parents."
Ha-------- Belay that request. After a worrying but understandable period of silence from our agent, we have received her latest and almost certainly last entry and are now certain that she was compromised before regenerating into a form that was antithetical to Homeworld's interests. The entry was generated by our agent's emergency protocols that act to inform us in the event of our agent's corruption by hostile powers. Extract below:
"We visited a planet under the Brides' influence. No, that's an oversimplification. The planet we visited had a forty hour day, with the average night in the areas with some population (excluding the poles for instance) generally varying from 15 to 26 hours depending on the season and distance from the equator. The governing bodies of the planet lay claim to different hours of the day. The governing bodies that control the hours where there is sunlight year round are fairly conservative Arcadian or proto-Arcadian post human cultures. The hours near midnight are governed by the law of the Lesser Brides. When one government goes to sleep, another one wakes up."
"In between these hours the patterns of law and authority wane and wax from one to the other, changing based on what they can plausibly enforce and what one will let the other get away with. In these not quite either hours, a network of hybrid subcultures flourish: party goers and cultists; musicians and gangs; the night shift staff and the strange customers that they service..."
"... It was a dispute over one of these not quite either hours that drew us from the subspace dimension. Matron Tremaine was arriving as a diplomat, I was part of her retinue. I didn't see what negotiations went on, but her opposite number left looking fairly pleased with himself, apparently having wrangled substantial concessions out of her. Matron Tremaine was also satisfied with the concessions, giving me the impression that her opposite number didn't quite grasp the power of who they were negotiating with..."
"As Matron Tremaine later said to us, 'It pays to maintain good relations with our neighbours. Afterall, we are always recruiting.' I could have sworn the Matron gave a pointed look in my direction, and for a moment I was worried that my cover was blown. I relaxed when I realised that surely they'd have done something already if they knew..."
"I was on my knees for the ceremony. My Husband was absent in the flesh but nevertheless there in spirit as He was for us all. Two of my fellow brides lifted up the veil of my wedding dress as Matron Tremaine brought the goblet- holding it up to my mouth. The Blood of the Dragon slid smoothly down my throat, painting my lips a deep, dark red as it passed down."
"As the matron took the goblet away, the younger brides took my wrists and sunk their fangs into it. My internal weaponry wanted to activate, as if by reflex, but I restrained it as the brides drank deeply. My throat, of course, was Matron Tremaine's to take. Moving to her knees to access it, spilling rose petal stains down my dress and hers, I was rendered utterly powerless in her grasp..."
"I was faint when the deed was finally done, my white dress having turned a liquid red. My ceremony was not yet over: it finished with my chest impaled upon Matron Tremaine's spear. My protocols of regeneration kicked in, now guided by the Blood of the Dragon in my belly. I awoke from the fires of my rebirth with a form made to my Husbands desires, and with hungers the likes of which I had never experienced... Hungers my fellow brides were only to happy to teach me how best to sate..."
"Now? My past life seems like a dream, like something that happened to someone else. Did I really live in a world of dull colours and duller senses before the Blood of the Dragon made me see colours so vibrant?"
"Did I really half live a half life in service to my House before my Husband taught me to live- really live, really feel alive- in a body of beautiful dead flesh?"
"Was I really that pathetic?"
"And then there's you, my former masters. Its just like you to install a back door in my biodata, too late for me to stop now of course even with the Blood of the Dragon now cutting my links to the Homeworld. So I suppose I'm stuck with an audience for now. Very well. I can live with that."
"Afterall, I don't think anyone has told you just how pathetic you are."
"I was pathetic once, but I had the possibility to become something better. You can't even achieve that."
"And I now know, that you are nothing."
"You are nothing compared to the Prince who carries the Blood of the Dragon, yet alone the Mother of Monsters who empowered Him."
"He is coming for you."
"You will know fear."
"You will know death."
"You will know the [data corrupted- unretrievable]
Addendum 2.3 [data corrupted- unretrievable]
Ha-- Initial fears have been proven beyond doubt. We now have yet another front in the War. Status update attached below:
Probably using information obtained from our compromised agent, homeland cult known as Night's Children launched a surprise attack earlier in history- apparently having partially detached their sub-spatial dimension from history itself- to make war on the local House sympathising societies. The homeland cults Knights of the Dead Suns, Haemomancer Covens, and Night's Black Agents swiftly replicated this tactic.
Just as our forces mobilised to exterminate these forces, the homeland cults took action later in history: across the spatial territories of homeland cults long since exterminated that had been recolonised by various (mostly human or human derived) species, great machines activated and started butchering the colonists on an industrial scale. After the population was sacrificed in these Moloch Engines, the blood spilt seemingly resurrected the dead homeland cults and their theocracies, which started making war on House sympathising societies later in history.
As it stands, our forces have driven back the homeland cults positioned earlier in history and contained the theocracies later in history, current tactics are relying on waging a war of attrition with the understanding that we can afford the losses and they can't. Previous attempts to recapture their territory or wage a more retroactive war against the cults and activated Moloch Engines were bogged down fighting time active partisan cells. We are currently mobilising a task force for locating a destroying any other Moloch Engines before they activate.
The Lesser Brides and a number of other homeland cults have retreated into their sub-spatial dimension completely, our forces currently have them under siege. In light of our agent being compromised, we suspect that the Lesser Brides may soon have access to some Homeworld cultural-genetic weaponry, but nothing the Faction hasn't already traded in and nothing that should be a problem as long as the Lesser Brides remain contained.
The Anticonvent remain unhostile, but we continue monitoring them both for changes in behaviour and information on the source of their transmissions [data corrupted- unretrievable].
Ha---- we are containing the homeland cults, and projections show that in the long run we are winning or at least can maintain this stance indefinitely. However, Homeworld has essentially infinite resources, of which we are using a comparatively pitiful amount to fight these enemies. Even when we reach a point where we can launch retroactive warfare without interference, the homeland cults hiding within their sub-spatial dimensions will remain a security risk, and judging by past and current experience there is a good chance that those forces that we defeat will just stubbornly refuse to stay dead.
Ha----Request: can I have use of heavier firepower to deal with them Y/N? Currently, most of the forces I am using are either allied cultures in the region or conscripted auxilia forces. Whilst functional at containing the threat, they are utterly inadequate for eliminating it. I would like to emphasise that the homeland relay cults are affecting the local structure of space time: we have no idea what kind of damage they are doing but what is certain is that the longer we dither the more difficult it will be to repair.
Mi-------- N- request not granted. Homeworld's resources may be infinite but our attention isn't. Our situation is one of distractions: if we take the time and effort to deal with enemies like the ones you are fighting the real enemies will start advancing on a thousand more important, more delicate fronts. The homeland cults, if they are still around when we win the War, will be relatively easy to mop up afterwards. This is a minor front after all, even if we look at who is sending the signals [data corrupted- unretrievable].
Chapter 15: Retracted (?) Entry from The Book of the War
[The entry below was originally written for inclusion in The Book of the War, but was retracted by its author due to him feeling that it would be more appropriate to the subject when included In The Book of Armaments. Why he thought this is unknown: it well established that The Book of Armaments does not exist and has never existed, that no plans were made for its writing or publication and that only the various lies, forgeries and heresies peddled by the Faction, the Enemy and various other subversives would claim otherwise. It goes without saying that none of these subversive groups are to be trusted on the topic.]
Biodata Patches [Great Houses: Culture/Technology (Early War)]: The phrase biodata patches has been used to describe a variety of medical tools and sutures (or at least the post biological equivalents) that are available to the Higher Powers; a tendency exaggerated by the various dealers in Wartime equipment smuggling stock to and among the lesser species labelling any kind of glorified snake oil as "biodata patches". Properly applied, the term applies to two kinds of post biological medical technology that work along similar principles. The more well known biodata patch is a quite useful thing- a literal patch made of specially grown and prepared biodata that serves to quite literally patch history up. This both allows for surviving events in one's history that should be terminal and for healing the damage from more esoteric weaponry encountered in the War.
The other kind of biodata patch is rather more sinister.
Both kinds are ultimately drawn from the same House investigations into the life of the half human Grandfather Halfling and, to be precise, the question of how he became or was made half human. The answer to this question has never really been resolved- with the Grandfather keeping quiet on the matter, the only real answers have been a collection of glorified tall tales and urban legends with the occasional addition of blatant propaganda aimed at smearing House Halfling.
One tale, or perhaps collection of similar tales, appears to have attracted the attention of the Houses. The details vary, but the general structure remains the same: one of many enemies he had made infiltrated his biodata and history in a way that should have been terminal for the Grandfather. However, a human they were travelling with at the time, sometimes called their mother, sometimes their lover, sometimes merely their friend, followed this enemy into the Grandfather’s biodata. Some go further- saying that the Grandfather was truly born as the gestalt of the biodata of the human intermeshing with that of their House renegade companion.
All of the tales, however, agree that the Grandfather’s biodata was strengthened as a result of this action: their history was fiercely protected by iterations of their human comrade, the holes in their biodata filled in and the inconsistencies held together with the “cement” of the human’s biodata. Given the nature of the War, their most modern body had the most biodata inconsistencies: resulting in enough human biodata “cementing” them that the Grandfather could be considered half human for the purposes of entering the City of the Saved.
Whilst these tales are at best unproven and wildly apocryphal, House experiments that are suspected of being inspired by them were for a time largely successful. Using special devices, House agents and soldiers could absorb the lesser species into their biodata. Not only could doing this “patch up” their biodata at critical weak points, but could provide them with the weapons and knowledge they needed: a number of lesser species being created by the Houses to be used for this purpose. Thus, the more nefarious form of biodata patch was designed.
Of course, this version of the patch fell out of favour due to the fate of one House soldier called Sarexia vel Tracolix. Sarexia was a proponent of using the lesser species as biodata patches not only as a tactic but as a life style choice. He enjoyed it to the extent that it was a sort of gluttony, and had an unsurprising effect on his physical form. By the end of his life, he was could not be described in 3 dimensional terms: instead being a network of different bodies derived from those he devoured scattered across time and space, each one being perceived as separate by those around him to the extent that ants may believe a human’s fingers to be a different entity to the human’s foot.
However, all of this ended when Sarexia made the mistake of devouring someone who turned out to be a little brother in Faction Paradox. The resulting catastrophe required the Houses to quickly demolish and sterilise Sarexia’s entire timeline, though several copies of the little brother are known to have escaped and the occasional rumour of a hideous combination of several of Sarexia’s bodies having joined the Faction under the name Godfather Patchwork still occur in the ranks of the House Military.
Understandably, the older variety of biodata patches are now strongly discouraged by the House Military, with the newer kind of biodata patch having beem retroactively brought in to replace it. That said, the older variety are rumoured to still be used to this day by some desperate individuals and among some decadent House subcultures.