CHAPTER 36 – II
They were huddled inside the compound. They had been here before, keeping the hordes at bay. Though The Many may have fancied themselves as the proverbial “barbarians at the gate,” the compound was no Rome. Inside, the august elites known as The Few continued with their plans, unfazed.
Ever since the Great Culling of nearly five hundred years prior, the elites of humanity set to work protecting themselves from the masses surrounding them. It was not simply the wealthy. Wealth lost most of its value, literally and figuratively, in the aftermath. It was the intellectual elites – those who had the technical expertise to build something from nothing – who ascended. With them, they partnered with collaborative and combat elites to form bands that could be select, self-sufficient, and secluded.
Human progress had been set back quite a bit and The Few still struggled to return to the levels of technological acuity that existed pre-Culling. This was, after all, the first time in 12,000 years that humanity had not grown alongside its dueling Champions of Light and Dark, driving creative destruction. But they were on the right track. Generations passed and The Few grew more and more powerful, especially relative to The Many. Their defenses became ever more fortified as the numbers of The Many increased. Their technologies eventually returned to exponential growth, even as that of The Many stagnated.
Much like The Many, these various bands of The Few found all-too-predictable reasons to squabble with similar bands. Thus spawned copious Few feuds. These detours from advancement held some groups back, pushed some forward, and eradicated many. The Few became fewer, which made those who remained all the more powerful. They would not want for material delights. Only corporeal realities would check their power. Mortality itself was the primary hurdle left uncleared.
The grass is always greener
Their water’s always cleaner
To have is to realize that we’ve not
Anything more than this life that we’ve got