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Webpage updated: Nov. 12, 2018

The Way Back Machine

Chapter 01

Chapter 1


           Is it almost ready?
           It is the best I could do lad, the best I could do.
           Well I am prepared, just like you said. I promise that no matter what I hear, I won't make a sound.
           Good, very good. We want to help mankind, not destroy it.
           Yeah, I know. Just like that old movie about that time machine and what just stepping on a butterfly can do.
           Precisely! That is why I made this machine so we could only listen. I've used the best universal translator I could come up with. Get ready to press the big red button.

This is where I have to wait for the dramatic pause. It's like an old Bond Flick or Pinky and Brain. But this guy is the smartest man I have ever met. I hope this works.

           Steady... steady... Press the big red button, now!

Well that was simple enough. Lights flashing... Great, I'm in an old Sci-Fi flick now. What's that? The screams are deafening! What the fuck is going on here? The pain, the suffering– what the– oh, good, it stopped.

           Damn this mask is hot.
           Yeah I know; that is why I like the bird one.
           Dude, I can not go out there in this thing again. I'm starting to get agitated and they are getting nervous again.
           Yeah I know. They reverted so much, I'm not sure we can pull this off. They are so primitive, they can only understand basic emotion projection, like the furry shells. Really hard to get through to them. So I guess we will just use that mask inside or... send it to the embalmers. Yeah, that's it! Let them use it!
           So why are we embalming shells, anyway? The souls are gone already.
           Oh, yeah, you were gone a few moons ago when we talked about that. Multiple reasons, really. We can check out the organs and do our medical research... These shells won't be the wiser. They spook so easily when you start cutting up an expired shell. The tombs are where we plan on hiding some of our secrets for the future. We figure if we do enough of them, at least some of our knowledge will survive for our distant future incarnations.
           Hey, I really like that mask over there. Can I try it?
           Go for it. These primitive shells don't know the difference anyway.

I hear someone coming; the professor is a genius!

           Sir, I have some good news and bad news.
           Damn, give me the bad news first; maybe the good news will cheer me up some.
           Well the alphabet thing the Purple Country is working on–– It is, well, it's... it's not going to work.
           Why?! I liked that idea; granted the council did argue it would take a while to get going. We need it to leave messages for the future so we can translate correctly. So what's wrong?
           Well Sir, they aren't catching on so the council voted to scrap it.
           Fine! Just great! Now I can't write down the Druid secrets about Karma. Don't they understand that we didn't invent it? That was rhetorical. We all know they are dumber than rocks. Well, what is the good news then?
           The pictures are working wonderful, Sir! I know you wanted something simpler, but it's working.
           Well, that is good news. There may be hope after all. You guys leave and please request that my wife come in and talk with me, whenever she is finished with her other husbands. She is a lot smarter than I am.
           Yes, sir. You know sir, I think that is based upon the gender of the shell.
           I don't doubt that a bit. This gender has some kind of control problem with their brain and sexual organs. A lot of the females are the same way, but they learn faster, for the most part. Some of them are still just as faulty as the males.
           Yeah, I think the females are the only saving grace for these shells.
           Kinda agree with Bitchy. They should just lock up all the male shells and keep them for breeding purposes only. Wait! Why are you guys bringing a scale in here?
           Your wife's orders, sir.
           Shit, another lecture.
           Yeah it's been great dude, but... I think I'm out of here. You do the lecture thing. I'm just a helper. Guess I don't have to see her after all.
           Coward!
           No, just glad I don't have your job.
           You and about everyone else.

By the sound of that sigh, I'm so glad I'm not him.

           Sir! We have found your eternal companion.
           Don't tell me, let me guess, another male shell just like mine again. Yup, add figuring that out to the list. Thank you, I'll figure this stuff out sooner or later. But why is it always later than sooner?

BUUUUZZZZZ-POP

What was that?

           Damn! Cheap! Taiwan! Capacitors! Go feed my little Pokey-pooh, and bring me a double meat Watta with extra pickles! It's going to be a long night. Glad I put in that auto save function.
           Yes Sir, right away Sir, and may I say this is a wonderful example of your sheer brilliance Sir! Truly, a–
           NOW! I don't have time for your dribble.

Wow, I lucked out after all! Wouldn't of believed this in a million years, but DAMN! The professor's invention works!

           Down! Pokey-pooh, DOWN! You are NOT supposed to bite the hand that feeds you, you, you, whatever-you-are! HERE!

Swear that thing is a cross between a piranha and a chihuahua! Now where are the keys? There they are. You know, maybe I should be a bit nicer to the old geezer. Getting him the entire meal on me this time may be a novel idea. I really need to keep this gig. The professor is going to be richer than Warren Buffet with this invention! Almost there. So glad this place is open twenty-four seven.

           Yeah, give me two number two's, both with extra pickles please.
           Would you like them Watta sized, sir?
           What? Oh yeah, go ahead, that would be great. Thanks.
           Anything else with your order, sir?
           No, that will be it. Your chip reader working today?
           Yeah, they finally got it fixed. Go ahead and put your card in. Your order should be ready shortly. Here are your cups, and I'll bring you your order as soon as it is done. You still working nights for that old crack pot?
           Oh, he's not a crack pot. He's a genius. His invention is awesome!
           That's not what George said.
           Yeah, but George couldn't even comb his hair with that growth on his back. I mean, come on! The professor got a HUGE grant after all.
           Then why does he only eat our burgers?
           Something about this particular burger, only with extra pickles, having just the proper proportions and ratios of protein, fat and carbohydrates for optimum human functioning, when combined with his morning nutrient intake.
           OK, whatever you said, I'm sure it's right. Here ya go.
           Thanks. See you tomorrow!
           Not me! I got tomorrow off, but the night after I'm sure.

Good, the vicious mongrel is asleep. That thing would so win the ugliest dog contest.

           Here ya go professor.
           What?! I TOLD YOU–
           I PAID, SIR!
           Oh, why... why, thank you. You may turn out to be a good intern after all. Why with the money you just saved me, I can get a bunch of new resistors. So what do we have here, deep fried starch and... what is this called?
           That is soda, sir. Haven't you ever had a soda before?
           No, no, only tea. Never went for any of that fancy new stuff. Heard it rots your teeth and causes problems with your bone density because of the phosphoric acid content. But I suppose just this once.
           Hope you enjoy it, sir.
           Tasty, but that high fructose corn syrup in this is what makes it so addictive. Now I see why all these humans become addicted to the stuff. Betcha it will keep me up the rest of the night with all these simple carbohydrates.
           That's OK, sir. Learned a long time ago not to bet with people more intelligent than I.
           You show promise boy, real promise. Keep this up and you will end up being an apprentice some day.
           Why, thank you, sir! Well, I'm going to go and get some rest so I can be here tomorrow for the next test.
           You do that son. See you tomorrow evening.

YES! I was so right! George was an IDIOT to leave! I'm going to be RICH~!




*                                  *                                  *




I hope the professor likes these donuts I picked out. Got to butter him up some. SOOO want my future to be brightened with that money maker of an invention he has developed! Oops, can't forget this bone I got for Pokey-pooh either, hopefully that mangy mutt will leave my ankles alone. I'll just open the door slowly... and toss it in. Jackpot!

           Do you like that, Pokey-pooh? I bet you do.

Heck, I don't even know if it's a boy or a girl. Hard to tell since it never faces away from me. Oh well. Sounds like the professor is hard at work up there.

           Evening, professor. Thought you may like something special, so I brought some donuts.
           What's this? Donuts you say? Looks like dough boiled in oil and covered with some type of confections' sugar and milk glaze. Rather high on the calorie count. Although they are light and fluffy on the inside, not nearly as heavy on the stomach as the boiled and baked dough I get at the deli. Yes, I do see why they are so liked by our city's law enforcement personnel. They are rather tasty. Thank you, Eric. In all the years George worked for me, he was never this thoughtful.
           It's my pleasure, professor. After all, you don't get out much, and you have been on your strict diet ever since you started this invention last year. Your brilliance deserves to have some treats every now and then. You are such an inspiration to me, I feel it is my duty to help you out any way I can.
           Ummm... well... ummm, thanks, but let's get down to business. Prepare yourself to press the big red button.
           YES, Professor! Prepared to press the big red button!
           Steady... steady... Press the big red button, now!

Flashing lights, those deafening screams of pain and anguish... I don't think I am ever going to get used to them... and it's done.

           Sir! The scouts you sent out twenty moons ago have finally returned. They are speaking with your wife now about where we used to be, before we found ourselves in these lesser shells. It seems the area is totally covered in mountains of ice and snow.
           Well, that explains a lot. The biosphere must have popped from the pressure.
           The what-o'sphere popped?
           Biosphere, we live on a biosphere. When it started to heat up and began killing all manner of life off from the heat, the humidity from the evaporating oceans rose to unbearable levels. The atmospheric shell around the planet couldn't contain the pressure, and the water vapor broke through the exosphere into the absolute cold of space. It must have caused the molecules to flash freeze, which is why the entire biosphere turned into perpetual winter for so long. It seems that the idea to escape the heat at the equator by moving to the cooler regions of this biosphere was less than ideal; in plain fact, it was our downfall.
           My apologies sir, but I don't recall as much as you do about past incarnations. All I remember are those destructive waves that destroyed everything in their wake.
           Yeah, everyone remembers those things.
           What were they, sir?
           Waves of solar energy, actually. They hit our biosphere all the time. Normally these waves were fairly benign. They would sometimes cause earthquakes or a form of solar radiation that would slightly disrupt some of the functions of the old shells we once had. The extreme heat was bad enough once our biosphere lost its cooling system at the upper and lower regions. All forms of life started dying if they didn't go underground. But at least we could escape the heat and humidity. Not like the destructive solar energy, there was no escaping that. For some reason, not really sure why, when the humidity from the heat got so high that we had to go underground, those waves turned into some form of pure fire and lightning which became a total force of destruction; I speculate that somehow they got amplified by the water in the air. A possible reason could be that the combination of the intense heat and overabundance of water molecules in the atmosphere must have acted like millions of tiny amplifying prisms and caused the energy waves to become extremely powerful. They became the bane of all life on this biosphere. A powerful force so strong it cut valleys, carved out huge vast canyons, and even cut continental land masses in half, let alone destroying entire civilizations. In fact the shells we would have liked to have had, instead of these faulty ones, were totally wiped out.
           I don't quite understand sir, but I will trust your wisdom and past incarnation memories as always.

Footsteps. Must be someone new.

           Well I am the keeper of ancient knowledge. Just wish I could remember more, but the capacity of these shells are nothing like the ones we used to have. Wait, what's this?
           I am just dropping this off for your wife, sir!
           Great, a scale and now a jar. What's next?
           Not sure sir, but the lesser shells sacrificed another cow for us, so you should have some meat coming shortly.
           Awesome! Help my companion get the fire started. I am pretty sure the wife wants me to come up with something from these items. Normally there are three items. Wonder, which item will be the third?
           I've got to go, sir. I will let the others know about the biosphere thing. If I find any others that remember anything of use, I will send them here so you can piece together more of what happened.
           That would be helpful indeed.

Sounds like more footsteps. This guy is really busy!

           Sir! I need your help.
           You? You need my help? You are the best engineer we have. How do you need my help?
           Well sir, while we are making progress in the forging of metal, it is still not to the point where we can make enough of it to cut the stone needed for these tombs and structures your wife wants us to start building.
           Why don't you try making something out of that shipment of quartz crystals we got in a few moons ago? I gave one of the larger ones to my companion's last shell, and as you can see, he had no problem cutting these bas-relief designs into the stone. Pretty good likeness of the mask I wear when I am around the lesser shells. Maybe you could rig up something with them?
           Thank you sir! That is an excellent idea. I could develop a saw with those as the teeth. I will get on that right away. I am so glad you finally made it here!

A saw made of quartz crystals? Wonder what type of stone they are cutting... More footsteps.

           Meat delivery! Here you go sir, your favorite cut, from the rib section. Your wife insisted that I deliver it, right away.
           Oh yes. Speaking of right away, let's get that over the fire now. I'm sure she just wants me eating while she gives her lecture. I don't interrupt as often when I am eating.
           I don't want to speculate on what she wants. I am just doing as she tells me. I figure it's less stressful that way.
           You and everyone else, actually. After all, she speaks for Gaia.
           Gaia?
           Yes, the soul of the biosphere.
           Maybe I shouldn't of asked. I have no idea what you are talking about.
           That is alright. These lesser shells are causing that problem with everyone's past incarnation recall, actually. Just help my companion with setting that nice, juicy piece of prey flesh on the spit to roast.
           One more thing before I leave, Sir.
           Yes?
           Do you think that the crystal saw will work on the black stone that your wife likes?
           Doubtful, although I may be getting stones soon that could scratch into it once you make it smooth. Do you need large pieces?
           Yes, large would be good.
           You will have to use a much more ancient and lengthy technique. In fact a technique that you actually came up with. One used before we formed Druids, to get chunks of that stone.
           My technique?
           Oh, yes. You were known as Stone Rider, back then. Those memories would do us well now. But the entire problem is how people remember their past incarnations.
           How we remember?
           Yes. Some of those whom we are working with, they are just pretending. They do not really remember.
           At least I tell you I don't really remember.
           Honesty is always helpful. You see, while the method to remembering your past incarnations is fairly the same, the way is different for everyone.
           Different?
           Yes, let alone the fact that bad Karma will keep a shell from remembering the non-violent things.
           Yeah, well I do have that fear of Lions.
           With good measure. Your shell has died more than once by their hunger.
           No... that I remember. I remember it. I can still feel it sometimes, and it wakes me at night, still.
           Yeah, that can happen. You have to respect and be wary around Crocodile and Hippopotamus, too.
           Yeah, I don't like them either.
           You see, I can tell you remember by your fears, and accomplishments, too. Not by what you say, but how you are, more specifically.
           I have done much more than most, for the moons I am. Yet I believe the fear inside me. It is so strong.
           You remember things that were emotionally significant to the soul inside the shell we inhabit. Having traumatic experiences take hold in the soul, but it is most often the softer emotions that bring about true greatness.
           Softer emotions?
           Yes – love, passion, a sense of accomplishment. Normally souls learn from the skills they acquire each incarnation. The souls end up relearning the skills they have true passion for; plus they end up learning them easier, let alone, faster, every incarnation.
           Thus the comment about me being a natural at what I chose to do.
           Very much so. For in the span of numerous incarnations, this learning process creates true greatness. That is why we are training these less intelligent shells to help us. Over incarnations they will get better at what we need them to do. So they, too, will feel a sense of accomplishment.
           Why is that?
           Because the feeling of true accomplishment is overwhelming. It is the greatest gateway into your past incarnations. From what I have experienced, and the experiences of others whom I do trust, remembering your past incarnations is a lot about just knowing. Just knowing that you can do something because your inner voice, which is your soul, knows you can, too.
           Knowing?
           Yes, just knowing that you have had past incarnations is when you truly do know.
           I still remember your talk about my natural talent for working with stone.
           Good, good. Sit, and I will tell you more.
           You tell me that I will know of things- things I have done in past lives because I am so good at what I do.
           You have some doubts. Why is that?
           There are others who are just as good.
           Yes, those others have lived many more moons than you have. You are doing things they never have dreamed of doing.
           You say these things I do are from the past. I just think I am good at what I do because I like doing it.
           I understand what you mean, so let me give you ancient knowledge to help you understand what I mean.
           A quest to understand?
           Yes, for I am going to tell you how to work with the harder stones. You see we remember things that were emotionally significant. Not always in visions or dreams, but just knowing. When you relive that emotion, all kinds of memories can come flooding like the Nile when the rains persist.
           So by you telling me how to work the black stone, I will remember?
           Yes, you will remember, but I have to let you experience it on your own; so for now you will just be getting knowledge, but one day in the future, you will come back to me and tell me of your recall.
           I look forward to that day, sir.
           As do I, but let me begin. While that black and gray speckled stone works great at smoothing down the block of this soft stone, they will also smooth themselves. You just have to see which is better for what work you want. Experiment and utilize the shells that were given to you.
           Can I get large chunks? I have a few ideas.
           Oh yes, of that, I have no doubt. But let me tell you the ancient knowledge for getting those large chunks. You have to use chunks of stone to wear a groove in the larger stone. Using the best stone for the job.
           The best stone for the job?
           A coarse stone grinds a groove much faster than a smooth stone.
           True.
           This groove is important to get the stone in a general shape. After you cut the groove, you need to build a long series of stacked logs to set ablaze.
           Someone else told me that fire helped them remember.
           Yes, but do not worry about that. By the time you finish, you will understand.
           Yes sir.
           You will also need a water skin of cool water. When the fires are going at their hottest, pour the water into the groove, letting it flow along the groove. Use your inner voice to let you know just when to pour the water; it will guide you.
           Yes, that inner voice has helped me much in this incarnation.
           Do this, and you will understand.
           I will do as you say, sir.
           Use blocks of the stone to smooth out the rough stone into the desired shape. Experiment is key to finding out what you used to know in the past. I foresee great things in your future.
           Thank you, sir.
           These shells will do whatever you want for food, just as they did back then. Which is also why we have so many of them making food and drink. During this entire process you will come across something that will be so memorable to your soul, that you will understand.
           Thank you, sir. I will get started on that soon.
           Also, I believe we should have some other types of stone coming in a different shipment, from some of my old friends before the Druids.
           Ishtar?
           Oh, no. I will be spending time with her group next incarnation. No, these friends are from the Jungles.
           Oh, those for the adornment makers.
           Yes; blues, reds, oranges, and some that can be made into some of the sharpest tools ever. As for Ishtar and crew, they got exceptionally lucky.
           Lucky?
           Yes, they actually found semi-intelligent shells. They were worshiped as Gods immediately. Those large leaf balloons we learned to make from our friends across the big water floated them right in, and they took over. We just landed here, that's all. I will talk to all of you about that, later.
           Mind if I grab a cut?
           No, go ahead. I'll be roasting and cutting off this huge chunk of meat, all day. My wife wants me very complacent, I'm sure.
           I, I kinda know. Yeah, she is like that. When she stares at you, it's like she sees inside you. Oh, just to let you know, I have personally seen how well your consort is doing. It is going wonderful with the pictures. She is doing a miraculous job.
           Good, at least these shells can learn something. It does give me hope.

Wow, this is so informing... All I have heard for the last hour is meat sizzling and the grunts and groans of a couple people gorging themselves. The professor needs a fast forward button on this thing. Wait, sounds like someone is coming.

           I see you are holding a feather. Why I think Ma has brought the infamous third item! Keep tending the meat.
           You know me soooooo well, husband of mine!
           As many rotations and shells we have been together, I should.
           Not all of them are as bright as you are.
           That, I can agree with. So we have a scale, a jar, and now a feather. What do you want me to come up with now?
           We are going to create a story for these primitive Gaia spawn to start learning.
           Yeah, I figured that much. We have been making a lot of "STORIES." They are lies!
           No, they are representations. They have metaphoric value.
           Lies are bad for karma. These "STORIES" reduced down to simple terms are bad for my KARMA!
           Well, yes, but you do have to study Karma this cycle. Is that not your task?
           Yes, but also the task of the other six husbands. What realm of Karma do I have to study? You already gave laughing boy the task about the Karma for Love.
           He is the youngest of all of you. Don't be jealous of his task, it will not be an easy one; for it is Love of one's self that is key to his studies.
           So... What is the main subject of this story I must come up with?
           Well, you are rushing ahead just a bit too much. First, my dear, I have to introduce the players.
           I understand. Of course you must introduce the players. By any chance will you be the main player in this story, or will I have to come up with more of them?
           Why, yes. Yes, I will be the main player.
           So this is the only story I have to come up with?
           Yes, like I promised.
           So after I come up with this story you want, then I go to Ishtar's lands?
           Why yes, and I will be sending you there with a bride.
           Oh, thanks, I guess. I could have always gotten one there.
           Yes... But... Well... I will explain that later.
           Part of the grand plan of Gaia?
           Of course, and you are not going to like it... But we cannot just write out all our secrets.
           It's because of the pictures, isn't it?
           No, Gaia doesn't want the majority of this form of spawn to know what is going to happen.
           I know this is one of those, 'I-really-do-not-want-to-know' times, but humor me. Why?
           Because they are too destructive in nature. They breed too quickly and would end up destroying themselves.
           Yeah, I can see that, but what about us? We are stuck in these shells now.
           You are. I have to go back to Gaia.
           Rub it in, why don't you.
           That was not my fault. You and I were not together then.
           Yeah, I know.
           You are the one who spoke up for them.
           AS WORKERS! I didn't want them as hosts for our souls! It wasn't my fault that our previous shells were becoming infertile! I wanted those other shells, and you know it!
           Yes, well those radiation waves put an end to that plan.
           Yeah, they did. Nothing left of those shells; just a lot of damaged souls.
           Yes, but that was in the distant past. Now, I have several of my priestesses coming up with other stories. But this one will have to be done by you. I could trust it to no other.
           You know, I get that a lot from you.
           But it is true. You know, my other husbands are so sensitive.
           SENSITIVE!? They are all prey souls! Not a single predator soul in the entire group of them!
           Well, no. You are a predator.
           Yes, yes I am, and we really need to cull this growing herd of shells!
           Now hon, we have talked about that.
           But I could clean up the Karma for it in five to ten iterations and the problem would be fixed.
           Maybe next time.
           Next time. After what happened last time, I don't want a next time.
           But we need the technology that will come from this. We have talked about this already. We need to focus here. To the most important of all stories.
           But the slaughter would be quick. Half of them would stumble over their own feet and kill themselves.
           Now, now. Remember, we got them to cheer for you.
           Yeah, OK... Suppose you're right. They are progressing, soooooommmmmeeeeee.
           Now, let us get on to the greatest of all the stories.
           Thus, also, why you will be part of it.
           I thought I would be quite good for this one. We are telling these innocent and sweet Gaia spawn what they must learn. They do respect me so.
           They respect you because if you get mad at them and use that stare of yours, their hearts stop functioning, normally followed by expulsion of bowels and bladder, and they die.
           Well, there is that. Although I have found some who haven't died when I stare at them like that.
           Oh really? Now that is interesting. You mean you actually found some brave shells?
           No, no. Not really. They are still scared, but not so bad that they die. You may have the chance to work with them, actually.
           Interesting. Well that is another improvement, I guess. But I thought we were going to be recording some of our ancient knowledge?
           Why, yes. Yes, we will be. But not directly.
           What do you mean, 'not directly?'
           Your souls will carry the information.
           WHAT?!
           Don't worry. You will understand by the time this is all finished.
           How long will this project take again?
           Well this entire project is going to take time. Let me see, they will be doing these temples, monuments and tombs for approximately six hundred seventy-six thousand moons.
           What is that in rotations?
           Four thousand or so.
           That is a lot of rotations. So... When – in the calculations of you, through Gaia or Gaia through you – will we face the rising heat, again? In rotations, please.
           Right around seven thousand.
           Seven thousand?
           Yes, that is when I will be returning from Gaia, just before the heat begins. This of course is to oversee our final preparations.
           Preparations?
           Yes. The ancient immortal souls will be scattered throughout this biosphere by then. Karma always has the ancients prepare prior to Karma reset, so that is when the shells will go underground.
           Following so far. All standard Karma before the Karma reset.
           Those shells that end up underground will have all the technological advances for the accumulated duration of rotations.
           Well, at least you are hoping so. They didn't do so well this time.
           Well they did bring the secret curse of eternal death with them.
           That is NOT a plus, here! So let's not talk about that, right now. It's bad enough thinking that it will happen with that curse this time around. But you are talking about soul priority taking over. What about it?
           Well, we have found more of what soul priority means. It is not just longevity of the soul, it is also the cleanliness of the Karma.
           What do you mean?
           Remember the race called The Destroyers of Old?
           Yeah, killed anything and everything. Durable, but very violent shells. Karma works different with them. Left me in the dark nation because of a misguided queen. Yeah, I know them.
           Many of their ancient souls have been reset.
           Karma reset DID THAT?!
           Yes. Granted those whom did survive are still in the ice as you well know, they will come out soon enough to reek havoc on the meek. If they do not change, then they will be no more. Forever; for they will forget their type of Karma, too.
           Very interesting. Very interesting, indeed.
           Yes, we should be able to ensure Karma reset will not need to happen, ever again.
           You do know there are more than just us.
           Yes, but again, we shall use Karma to sort out those we want for the final chance we have.
           That seems like an interesting concept.
           Well, there is the chance that some of these younger souls are older than we give them credit for.
           I have notice that, too. I may keep the gruff front, but with all the other shells that are learning, especially with creating artistic things, I kinda like some of them. Some shells are like cats and yet most are like dogs, especially the males.
           Yes, yes they are. They are doing so well at carving the rocks. You will be so proud of our children.
           So they are our children, now?
           Well, yes. If you talk and work with them like children, they are so receptive.
           Yeah... I will take your word on that one. This does give us greater promise that we will have more souls that are advanced when our last chance arrives. But why not take care of the problem now, instead of taking the chance that these shells may destroy this biosphere?
           Because there will be even greater promise, if you continue to teach those whom wish to learn.
           True. But back to these stories.
           Oh, yes. There will be that mask you favor there, not the old one, but the new one; myself, of course; and which ever mask you want to be in charge of the health inspectors.
           Yeah, the embalmers. I just sent that Dog mask; it's way too hot to wear outside much.
           That will work out just perfect, actually. But we do have to come up with a monster. Yes, something that really frightens these shells to their very soul.
           Well, since you like things in three, the three things that frighten these shells to their souls are lions, hippopotamus and crocodiles.
           That will work. You can call it a..., a..., a mutt..., or something like that.
           So let me get this all straight here. We have three ancients... Three items which are a scale, a jar, and a feather... Then there is a terrifying monster that is made from three different creatures. Personally I think you are getting carried away with the three's, but... that could just be me. Soo what is the story going to be about?
           Karma.
           WHAT?!
           Now, we have talked about this. You need to calm yourself.
           I am not allowed to record the secrets of the Druids! But! I have to explain KARMA! It would be easier to recite out the complete history of this biosphere!
           Now, now. Technically you would have to survive one thousand nine hundred twenty-four moons in that shell form to do that, which cannot be done currently. They will top out around fifteen hundred or so. But smile! You do not have to explain anything, really. It will all be metaphoric. Remember, this will not be just a story, but a grand production. We must instill these lessons into the very souls of these shells. You are not the only one writing parts of the story.
           That is what worries me. Lies, stories, whatever you want to call them is what got us in trouble this last time. That, and the fact that our species became sterile.
           Yes, but this is a learning experience this time. You know this, as do all the rest of my husbands. We will be learning all about what causes the problems, and most importantly, how, to...
           Fix them.
           Very good. If we cannot learn to fix the problems, then we will never escape total destruction.
           Still say it would be easier just to fix the problems now, but I bow to your wisdom.
           Baby, it is what has to happen. We talked about this at the great gathering. You know this has to be done.
           Yes, but the troubles it will cause in the future. I don't want the Karma for all that.
           Who has the ability to manipulate and alter Karma?
           You do.
           Thank you. It will not be that bad, and you will end up working all of it off, anyway. It is, after all, what you are best at.
           Yeah, I know. So what are the other things I need to tie into this story?
           Well, basically, we are going to make up laws and rules to live by to avoid Karma problems.
           Oh, like, 'not killing outside of defending the defenseless.'
           Yes, and no. That combat clause is only for select individuals in your combat ranks. Some of them will not make it, either. Yet for most of these shells, the Karma from combat will continue.
           I take it I am going to have to go through a lot of combat Karma.
           Well, yes, you did spend numerous incarnations with the Destroyers. Remember, your Karma is not like their Karma.
           Why is that?
           Their Karma was forged in the harshest of conditions.
           So, back before the last time the biosphere popped?
           Yes. That is when the initial Karma started for the shell types.
           That was back when we first had eternal companions.
           Yes, we were not the only intelligent life form to have made it through back then.
           I remember bits of that age, but nothing like the advancements of the last age.
           Well, it is your job to be the keeper of ancient knowledge. You have more ancient knowledge. It just takes time to develop the abilities to access it all, especially in these shells. I do think time within the shell is a factor, too.
           Hope that isn't Karmatic.
           While Gaia doubts that, it is a possibility. But as far as all of your adverse Karma, it will be all worked off and pointed towards positive advancement, before your vacation starts.
           So the incarnation prior to the actual vacation?
           About half way through the prior incarnation, to be more precise. The effects should begin rather rapidly.
           So half an incarnation as a male with rapidly advancing positive karma, and then I get to be female, again?
           Why yes, and just keep looking on the bright side; all that pesky personal combat... won't affect all your incarnations. There is Karma expansion involved.
           True, there is that.
           Granted you will have to re-live the carnage over and over before that...
           Yeah, I'm looking forward to it. At least those souls will never bother my people again. Plus, you were the one that wanted them gone in the first place. So what about some of my old friends?
           Some were, however most were not, friends. You know this, don't you?
           I know that real well. Known that, and have watched it through eternity. Especially Pretty Boy. Dump me? Ooh no... Pretty Boy has a Karma trap waiting for his ass just before vacation time commences. If he doesn't remake those blades, the Karma will make his ass the lowliest of thralls, forevermore.
           When that time comes, I will be choosing all the priestesses who will be around you. They will be special to me due to their specific talents. Those whom I will have to choose now, well... You are not going to like my choices at all.
           I do not doubt that.
           But you will enjoy your vacation. It will be special since it will be your first. There are few who have had my vacation plan before. You will more than greatly enjoy my choices, then. That, I guarantee.
           But the problem child?
           Well, would it help if I were to tell you how to kill without it affecting your Karma, and in the process, destroying theirs?
           YOU CAN DO THAT?!
           Yes, but only in the slimmest of instances.
           How?
           Oh, my! I do believe I have your attention, now.
           Yeah you got my attention. How?
           Now honey, I will tell you, but not right now. First thing's first – the stories.
           When?
           Since I do foresee the time in the distant future, that you will truly need this information, I will give you the knowledge...
           Yes...
           After we finish these stories. You have my word.
           DONE! So what is this creature for?
           Second death.
           Second... death?
           Well, I want some type of representation or metaphor, for the loss of past incarnation memories.
           That is just because the soul died with adverse Karma. Simple enough. Why the monster?
           Well, we want to instill fear of that second death. The loss of past incarnation memories stops and reverses soul progression, after all.
           Alright, I can work with this. So basically we are working on a type of reincarnation explanation... without telling them outright... about reincarnation.
           Yes. Using something to do with an afterlife. The Great Valley people are using reincarnation.
           Afterlife?
           Basically the different levels of soul progression in a simpler form. Where if they do well this incarnation, they progress in the afterlife. It hasn't been all worked out, yet.
           I will get with the others on that. So these rules or laws... What about them?
           Well, I do want to keep it to a short list.
           So how many? Eight? Sixteen? Thirty-two?
           Not sure, just yet. But I should have at least thirty-three, but not more than fifty.
           So no references to hexadecimal or other systems?
           Correct.
           Alright, I will try and work all that into it.
           I will have the others get with you about their parts, but we really need to stress this.
           So soul progression needs to be a really rigorous trial with stern judgment.
           Oh, of course. Judgment will be overseen by all of us.
           There are a few I would really like to judge about now.
           Yes, I know that, but the time will come. Karma, after all, will take care of that.
           Yeah, but it is so sssssllllllllooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!
           That is only because you are not within Gaia.
           Yeah, but that will not be in my fate for an eternity.
           Again, whose fault was that?
           Actually, I am not really sure at this point. There could be a couple possibilities.
           Very true, and how will you ever find out unless you do what you are told?
           You know, working for you and Gaia isn't the easiest of tasks.
           No, but at least I won't turn you into prey.
           True.
           Well is that enough for you to get working?
           Should be. Just get the laws and rules to me as they are made, and I will work it all into your Grand Production.
           Thank you, honey, and you know... You are my favorite.
           We are all your favorite. It's just favorite what, being the main question.
           Well, yes. It is so nice that they found your eternal companion so quickly. He always did like being scratched behind the ears.
           Yeah, still acting more like a wolf than one of the normal shells. But he has advanced in cooking meat. Remembers that every shell now.
           Good, good. Hopefully you will figure out the problems that have occurred over the incarnations, too.
           I should be able to. Since all the other companions progressed since they were in the animal shells they once occupied, we should be able to get this all fixed.
           Well he did choose the task of doing it again, so we could look at it better.
           Yeah. If he hadn't gotten part of his soul ripped away by the Yagga, then he wouldn't have had to, now, would he?
           That was not of my doing. You and the Yagga have been battling forever. I do believe that you surrendering instead of finishing her off was the correct answer.
           So do I, actually. So do I. It did erase the Karma problem. There will come a time when she will be needed. But now there is also a malevolent soul chunk loose.
           Don't worry about that now. You will catch that, and why?
           Because Karma will allow me the opportunity, if I am smart enough and observant enough to see them.
           Are you going to be able to do that?
           No.
           Why not?
           I can't. I am not that good.
           So whose help do you need?
           All of you.
           Thank you, honey, and can I have that slice right... oh yes, thank you. Bye now, love, and enjoy the rest of your meal!

Great, the professor really needs a fast forward button on this thing. Chewing, grunting and the occasional fart for an hour now. Oh, someones walking by again. Maybe we will get lucky. Nope.

           Hai!
           What? Who? That's my word to use. Who the...
           Asleep? You are supposed to be working!
           Bitchy? What is your problem? I've got a full belly here and a new project. What do you want?
           Oh, I am just going to make your day, that is all.
           Really? How are you going to do that?
           Well, this is so hard for me to say, but here goes. I... I need... I need your help!
           You have my attention. Oh my, this wasn't due until the ice age started again.
           Look, I was upset, that's all.
           Honey, you are always upset.
           Well, yeah. I did not want these shells.
           You think I did? I got stuck in these shells a lot sooner than any of you. BECAUSE OF YOU!!!!!!
           Yeah, I know. Sorry about that. I was...
           Upset?
           Yeah. My temper does get the best of me at times.
           You think?
           As much as possible.
           Sometimes I really wonder. Alright, what do you need?
           Look, I know we have had, and yeah, still do have our differences, but...
           Yes?
           You are the best story teller we have, and I have a really hard part of the story to put together.
           You have a hard part? I have to explain Karma!
           Well I have to explain how our leader from eons ago seeded this biosphere with the genetic building blocks that created these shells.
           I understand your problem. What did my wife give you to make the story from?
           Three things that our old leader and these shells have in common.
           She didn't give you any?
           No, she told me that I have to find three things in common with the shells so they can relate to what our leader did.
           Wow.
           Frankly, all these shells want to do is procreate as much as possible with anything they can.
           I agree with you, actually. But that is built into their genetic make up for survival purposes. If it wasn't for that, we would all be in the furry or scaly shells again.
           Yeah, I know. I got stuck in a cow shell for a while, now. Look at this shell!
           You do reflect that time.
           You think I like being this large?
           Not our choice, now, is it?
           No, that is why I am not arguing, let alone, why I am here.
           I learned a long time ago not to argue. I also learned that this is how she gets us ancients to get along again.
           I heard about that. Never thought I would ever have it happen to me, but here I am.
           That's alright. We both agree that these shells are obsessed with procreation.
           I do not think they are obsessed with procreation as much as they are obsessed with just pleasing themselves.
           Understandable. These shells will try and mate with about anything, really.
           They don't even have to mate. These shells are more obsessed with self gratification than anything else.
           Well, no, some of them actually do care for each other.
           But that is just starting, now that we have got them all together.
           True, but back to what we were talking about here. Technically, seeding an entire biosphere to create these shells is procreation, is it not?
           You know, I am beginning to understand just how you come up with some of these work around things you are so good at. Please, continue.
           So the first item is procreation. Now the second could be self gratification, and as far as the third, well, I would have to say family. These shells are obsessed with family, and our creator was obsessed with the genetic creations.
           Oh my, I think you are on to something here. I can do this!
           Yes, yes you can.
           Thank you.
           You are most welcome.
           You also know more about Karma than any of the others.
           Yes, but not nearly enough.
           So I have a question about all this.
           Go ahead, Bitchy. I will have an answer for you. May not be the one you want, but it will be an answer, never the less.
           Since we are putting so much energy into these stories, which is a primal force that dictates Karma, how is this going to affect my future incarnations in these shells?
           We will end up doing the same thing that ended up destroying all the other shell types just prior to the ice age beginning.
           How many stories will I end up creating?
           Since we are using this "God" concept, coupled with the energy of all those that believe the stories... It is hard to figure, truthfully.
           A rough estimate, please?
           Well, you will start doing them first with every incarnation. Then, it will expand out to once every five-hundred rotations which will be dependent on how long your shells last. After that, it will go on till the main creation myth that destroyed all those shell types surfaces in the future. After that story comes forth in the future, you will no longer get as much attention.
           So for the next six to seven thousand rotations I'm going to be making creation stories?
           Pretty much. Funny thing is that when the time does come full circle, we will all actually tell the truth about everything, but these shells... They will never believe it, just like last time. The majority of the population will believe lies over the truth. Let alone, the majority will also be addicted to the plant that causes the Karma of eternal death within life itself.
           Unless your wife makes them change their ways. Correct?
           What is going to happen then will happen. This is all so we can learn about Karma, and how to circumvent the total destruction of this biosphere. We do not have any other viable biospheres nearby.
           So we are using this as an experiment?
           Actually, as my esteemed wife would say, "It is a learning experience." Gaia, and of course my wife, will ensure that some of these shells will survive, and that our last chance at this will go without problems. We basically need to ride it out and hope these shells don't totally destroy the biosphere this time around.
           This is way too risky, as far as I am concerned.
           I agree with you on that, too, Bitchy. But I am in no way, shape, form, or possibility, smarter than my wife, let alone, Gaia.
           We are agreeing quite a lot, here.
           It may end up becoming a habit if you don't watch out.
           Well, that, too, is going to take about six or seven thousand rotations, too.
           Hahahahaha...
           I got you to laugh? My word, you have changed.
           Yeah, well, we haven't really been around each other since before the last Ice Age started.
           Spending time in these shells has been good for you, it seems.
           Well, acceptance of those things you cannot change helps.
           I will have to try and remember that. Thank you.
           So you don't mind that I am now part of the group?
           Well, you have done your time. Granted I didn't want anyone else but our original number to do this, but at least I get to work with you instead of Ishtar.
           That is why my wife sent them on in the leaf balloons.
           Where did you come up with those, anyway?
           Well, the land across the the large water... They were an invention of theirs.
           So there are others across the great water?
           Oh, yes. Multiple different versions of these shells.
           Well believe it or not, it is good to have you back with us, and not against us.
           Thank you, but the amusing thing about it all was that I was never against any of you.
           True, but we didn't appreciate you disagreeing with us.
           No doubt. But who ended up being correct?
           About that... I am going to end up owing you.
           Really?
           Yeah. That, and the rest of us.
           So I take it you got in a bit of trouble with what you did?
           Yes, no, maybe, but for what it is worth, I was wrong.
           Wow, I think this shell just overloaded on its emotion.
           I noticed they do that. I actually had water burst from my eyes and felt really bad when I thought about all we ended up doing back then.
           That is a good sign, actually. It is one of those things that the creator really wanted so that we could avoid destroying this biosphere.
           Do you know what happened to the creator?
           Unfortunately.
           That does not sound good.
           It is not.
           Well, thank you again, and we shall see what happens.
           Seeing, yes; it's remembering that will be the problem.
           Yes, yes it will.

Sniff - sniff

Hold on, I smell smoke. It's coming from those dials! OK, wave hands. Harder and faster! Yes, the professor sees me! Over there. Oooooovvvvvvveeeerrrrrr there-- Maybe if I should point with both arms... Oh, he sees it. Wait, what does he want? He's pointing and pulling. Oh, behind me. A LEVER!! Got it. Emergency shutoff activated.

           SHIT! Shit! Shit! Cheap-ass rheostats.
           Rio what?
           Rheostats. Variable resistors which are used to perilously control the current of electricity flowing through a system.
           Oh, so all those smoking dials are...
           Cheap Taiwan rheostats, yes.
           Alright, but what about the smoke coming from behind that latched door?
           Latched door!? NOOOOOOOOOO!

Wow, I've never seen someone fall down on their knees and cry before in real life!

           Noooooooooooo- This can't happen to me. All that hard work for nothing. Noooooooooo...
           What's the matter, professor?
           The isolated dynamic deoxyribonucleic acid deliminator has been ruined. The electrical current must have varied just enough to fry the entire mechanism. It's permanently fused to the person we have been listening to now. All that money I spent on mummy fragments has been totally wasted!
           Where did you get mummy fragments?
           On-line, of course. Heck, social media is full of people selling anything you want if you have enough money. Took me years to find fragments with traces of genetic material. Why, this fragment was found not more than 3 months ago!
           You have been dealing with illegal artifact trade, professor?
           Well, the Brits won't let me have any of their material. You think the Egyptian Department of Antiquities would be any kinder. If you want to achieve pure genius, my boy, sometimes you have to think outside the box.
           No, you are right, professor. This machine of yours is truly groundbreaking work. It must be completed, at any cost. Is there anything I can do to help?
           I'll take another Watta, if you don't mind. I've got a lot of work ahead of me.
           Don't you worry, professor. I'm sure you can fix the problem.
           I hope so. I have ten other samples to try.
           You go ahead and get to work, professor, and I'll get you that Watta meal and feed Pokey-pooh. Don't worry about that.
           Yeah, yeah. Can't really hear you in here. Just put the burger on the workbench when you get back.

Oh my god! This has got to be the most informative and enlightened invention in ALL time! Oops, gotta watch that. Almost stepped on that Parhuahua... or what ever Pokey-pooh is. Damn thing will eat my leg off if it gets the chance. Shit! It's waking. Shut the door, shut the door, and done. Oh! Right into a closed door. Damn thing just shakes its head and trots off. So it's a Pit Parhuahua. Pit Parhuahua doesn't sound so bad. It's still early. I think I'll stop by the Spanish meat market and get a few large bones to keep that thing liking me. Still like to know where the professor found that thing...

Now, where are they? Ah, the sweet bread! Oh, wow. They've got a larger selection, today. Hmm. Do I want colored sprinkles, jam-filled bread, pink or blue sugar toppings, lemon or pineapple-- Coconut. Oh, and that one looks like coconut, too! And it's two colors. Different flavors, maybe? Let me just walk on over and grab a bag... and put one in. Or two. Or three-- No! Four. ...Five! There we go. That ought to do it! O tay, bones, bones, bones. Frozen section... Oh my, this should work. Three pounds of frozen chicken hearts. Let's get checked out and then it's Watta time.


           Can I take your order, sir?
           Yeah, give me two number two's, both with extra pickles please.
           Would you like them Watta sized, sir?
           Go ahead, that would be great. Thanks.
           Anything else with your order, sir?
           No, that will be it. Your chip reader working today?
           Nah, it went down today in the middle of the lunch rush.
           Swiping away then.
           Your order should be ready shortly. Here are your cups, and I'll bring you your order as soon as it is done. You still working nights for that old crack pot?
           I told you before, he's not a crack pot. That man is a genius.
           If you say so. All I know it that George is doing so much better since he left that old geezer.
           Really?
           Yeah, got himself a job paying more than minimum wage with awesome medical coverage, too.
           Wow, that is an improvement.
           Says he may be able to have that growth removed as soon as he can afford all those co-pay fees that they tack on.
           Yeah, they co-pay people to death don't they?
           Heck yeah, but at least it doesn't take them a week's pay just to see a doctor.
           No shit, then another week's worth to just get the meds they want you to take.
           Yeah, well I'm still going to school, so I got my folks still covering me.
           Same, actually. I get course credit for working with the professor's project.
           Wow, George says he never got anything from the professor.
           Imagine that, a disgruntled assistant, complaining and not liking his former boss.
           Good point.
           So you still living at home?
           Unfortunately I can't really afford a place of my own. Heck it takes three or four people to afford a place on what I make here. Laura was talking about getting some of our old gaming group together and going in on a place.
           Dude, that would be so awesome! If you want to play again, let me know and I'll dust off the old Necromancer sheet and join in.
           I doubt we will have time to play, really. This adulting thing SUCKS!
           Yeah, it does. I got it lucky working for mom and dad. Still have my own room, and all I have to do is keep up with the computer records. They both suck at technology. Couple hours a week and I get an awesome allowance, college is paid for, and all tax free. So when will you finish school?
           Just started at the VO-TECH this fall, so a couple of years.
           VO-TECH? Thought you wanted to go to college.
           My grades weren't really that great, and you know what happened.
           I warned you about that supposed spice crap. You aren't the only one that used it. There are a lot of people that have anxiety problems because of that shit. Just hope they legalize the stuff that actually helps you.
           That would be nice, but I hear the medical cards for it cost too much, and the stuff they do sell is way out of my price range. I'll just stick with my dealer. I didn't really have much of a choice since my folks ain't rich. I did hear Lisa got a good gig with working for a family business, so she is doing a lot better now. Basically I ain't got much choice. Work at this dump forever, go to VO-TECH, or try my best to hide my problem and go join the fuckin military-- and I don't want to fuckin die.
           No SHIT! That idiot Frank left for the military last week.
           I may have fucked my head up, I may not have the best grades, and I know I'm not book smart, but with the military, it's too much of a gamble. With my luck, I'd roll a one and die in training. Looks like your order's up.
           Thanks, can't say there is anything wrong with your logic. I swear they just keep making up shit so they can just send people to their deaths. But that is the world we live in. See you tomorrow then?
           No doubt. I'm stuck on graveyard for the rest of the week.
           Oh, and you really need to stop beating yourself up for what happened to Lisa. None of you guys knew that shit was sprayed with antifreeze.
           Yeah, but I bought the stuff.
           They chipped in.
           It wouldn't of happened if it hadn't gone dry for so long.
           It was just a bad roll in the game of life. Ya can't change the past dude, give it a rest. Nite!
           Yeah, we all failed our saving throw on that shit. Nite!


To be continued......