CHAPTER 29 (1979-1984) – I

Aricame and Glendan were once again engaged in one of their late night whiskey-fueled strategizing sessions. Glendan was now in his eighties, but his mind and body remained strong. Aricame had been healing him periodically, giving back what time had taken away, and doing so at the expense of those who aimed to tear down all that they had worked so hard to build up. To restore his father’s health, he would take it from his business and bureaucratic rivals (who were usually acting at the behest of the Ahriman Group). Aricame didn’t need to kill in order to prolong Glendan’s life, but he would hospitalize entire boardrooms and departments in order to take what he wanted.

This most recent session with his father dealt with the fallout from the latest Tug River kerfuffle (with the whole world to occupy, this small patch of land continued to throw curveballs at the great Champions…and like Glendan, these individuals were all kept spry and spirited by the powers of their respective benefactors, with Aleris backed by Aricame and the Counsel backed by Stievo). But this time the danger was different. Springing out of the blood feud in Appalachia were two powerful figures who took their talents westward. Shanta Fagan, a charismatic cult leader who broke from the Church of Ahriman and the Counsel, settled in the Rocky Mountains where she preached separation from institutions (government, religion, family) and also from individual expression (art and the pursuit of knowledge). The second figure was Nira, a brilliant revolutionary mind who relocated to the deserts of the southwest and didn’t so much break from the Church as distance herself so she could focus on her work: destabilizing established orders.

Shanta Fagan and Nira were the two names foremost on the minds of Aricame and Glendan as they strategized. The two upstarts shared a nihilistic worldview which threatened to undermine all that they (and Stievo, for that matter) had worked for, yet each operated with differing agendas. Nira developed a computer virus that was designed to cripple all devices that it infected. Since the only computers capable of transmitting the virus were used by the world’s wealthiest corporations and most powerful governments, it went unnoticed by much of the world’s population, but was obsessed over by those who controlled those same populations. This was bad for both Stievo and Aricame, but it was definitely worse for the Champion of Light since he was the creator of most of these machines and his allies were the most likely to be harmed.

Shanta’s nihilistic ideology also posed a threat to Aricame’s interests, but given that Shanta’s bizarre cosmology sprung from Stievo’s Church and that her messaging was more explicitly anti-government, she seemed like a bigger threat to Stievo.

Looking at these two figures as if they were pieces on a board (a visualization Aricame was continuing to master) father and son devised a plan to turn these two wild cards into ally and adversary. Nira would be managed rather than opposed; Shata Fagan would be aided. It was a Faustian bargain, and it would bite Aricame in the ass in the future.

Absence exists in great expanses
Between galaxies and collections
Of great density and connections
Towards one another, each advances