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. Through further mastery of the Board, which led to further mastery of his own Championship powers, Aricame had learned how to transfer small amounts of solar energy into his father in order to halt the effects of aging. It was actually an idea first put into his head back when Stievo was attempting to transfer power into Bacu.

This most recent brainstorming 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 League 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 League, settled in the Rocky Mountains where she preached separation from institutions (government, family, even organized religion) 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 the powerful people who controlled those very 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, father and son devised a plan to turn these two wild cards into ally and adversary. Shanta Fagan would be aided; Nira would be managed. 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