The Palladian Question

Hari Seldon


Silver Donator
Alpha Tester
Jun 17, 2017
Rank: None
Service Points: 0
“So who or what is Pallas?” The woman asked.

She hadn’t directed the query at me but was going to launch into a speech, pacing slowly up and down in front of us three captives. Given I was cable tied in an awkward position, the black clad thugs in the background and the high powered pistol she was nonchalantly waving around it was hard not to giver her at least some attention.

“It’s a question that has been posed in almost every place from the highest marbled halls of the powerful to the meanest street gutters. It fascinates us all for different reasons and rightly it should. Both fear and hope are kindled by the name, alienation and fraternity determined in two syllables.”

One of the others had an opinion about that which they felt they had to loudly share, it wasn’t what this woman wanted so she put a gun to their head and pull the trigger without looking over breaking her cadence. Neither me nor the other prisoner had anything unsolicited to add after that, best to let her pontificate.

“By default most would assume Pallas is but a man or woman, one of the greats of this time or any other but a single human soul. To some holy and prophetic, to others seditious and deceitful. The mad conductor or the only sane person around. Sincere and uninhibited in stated aims or a staged plant keeping some form of control on the dissident feelings of the disappointed masses in just the right way to justify tyranny. It’s a lot to lay at the feet of a single mind even if the suggestion is it has been done in the relay of a title. Too simple of an answer for some who hold that any human would be too small for the task. An AI, rogue or deliberately set to gather up the dregs, is a fine thought though I have heard xenos hive mind theories that sound no less plausible.”

“The most imaginative I have heard floating around stems from an interpretation of the soubriquet. Pallas not of any Athenian or Anean fame nor the father of fifty slain by Theseus but instead the embodiment of a Titanic spirit returned. An antediluvian pneuma descended from a higher plane to the mortal world, an old god suffused with a will of bloody violence which predates humanity yet still fathered the dawn light that brings new beginnings. An immortal to set before the sacred task of burning away the old growth or a devil bent masterfully at vengeful corruption of humanities progress. There is yet a partial fact in there for all the eccentricity but I can see I am loosing you,” Which made me immediately stop the not as subtle as I hoped attempts to twist the restraints loose.

“If mundane answers grasp you better there is still a poetry to be found in the view that Pallas is a council of wise philosopher kings that meet and proclaim from a distant asteroid lair the best possible steps for our stagnant civilisation. Themes abound upon the membership and intent of such a group from the ordinary sedition of greed to suggestions of those that survived from or model themselves upon the virtuous competitors long crushed by the Union. This too has a shadow of verity.”

“Better really to say that Pallas is a concept, a state of mind or context. Not a digital entity born of man’s labour jumping hosts nor a name to share for the psychosis caused by the poisoning of cheap implants. Not even an idea or creed but instead a natural law of society. An inevitable repeating event, divinity from out of sapient connection. You see when people plug into the shared multicom to disconnect from the real world they still take all of themselves in with them down the two way street. You aren’t just receiving from a source but contributing your psychological totality,” My expression clearly told her I wasn’t getting it so she leant in as a teacher would to give a student special attention, it felt like a dangerous moment.

“It’s all supposed to help people experience digitally the good things the real world can’t provide, a cosy cage for the dispossessed and unfulfilled masses to loose themselves in. All the frustration, anger, fear, despair, stress, wants and pain comes along for the ride. Always tickling along at the back of the cortex is how the experiences are things that can’t or wouldn’t be done reapse. It all has an effect, it doesn’t just vanish into nowhere. It builds up as patterns in the system, vibrations of emotional waves in the neural data. A psychic current subject only to the gravity of the human mind,” She stepped back to spin in a circle with her arms spread in an encompassing gesture, “It’s us. Any and all, agglomerated reaction to the ubiquitous, the ultimate critique. It could be said the Union did indeed shape the specific form in the way it channels the soul.”

She moved suddenly and grabbed the other prisoners head in both hands, “Understand that we all add our opus to this hive-mind and Pallas is the harmonic signature convergence, empowered and driven to surge force by repetition of primitive sentiment. Pallas is the peak of the waveform expressed, theistic observation might term it a possessive but there is no consciousness only a transformation of individuals via confrontation with the commonalities of the current human condition. We name the rip tide that pulls us from the shallows of an individual existence deep into the sea of the shared psyche. When it happens the whole mind, ID and Ego, looses the boundaries that keep it in, what was escapes to communion with the vast ocean. What flows back in is purity, we are overcome and overwritten by the fundamental subconscious. Who the flood crashes upon is incalculable just as it’s irresistible, the work of the enlightened is to make ourselves receptive, open as an invitation to transcendence.”

She stared right into the eyes of the other captive for a silent moment as though searching for something before letting his head go, “The apotheosis is the emergence of the pre-human, lizard brain psychology that lurks at the cardinal intrinsic of us all, uncovered and given the metaphorical name of a pre-Olympian Titan of war to match the violence reaction inherent to the false idols of the world. At once personal and so singular but also implicit in all of us and thus multiple. Pallas is both an extraordinary elder force greater than the sum of its parts and working through the medium of digital artifice foreign to humanity. A supreme prehistoric human alien.”

Her excitement was reaching a fever pitch and the background goons where being carried along with her fervour, “Pallas is mankind reborn to its existential truths, the mire of millennia washed away so that eyes can see clearly, lungs breath cleanly and the words flow freely. Pallas is the means back to the real face of mankind and gives us an open pathway to ascendency!” She threw up a first in their particular salute and the minions followed on shouting praises to their nebulous leader until they had all calmed down a bit.

The woman then looked down at us with an expression of clear satisfaction, obviously pleased with her articulation of her nonsense techno-declinist pablum, “The experience is different for all those touched by Pallas. It brings to each a focus upon an aspect of the Dao, it is my honour that mine was the inspection of change itself.”

From the look in her eye as she held my gaze for a moment I knew she was totally nuts. Now she was done being grandiose things were even more dangerous. Your average devotees of this sect were a certain sort of unhinged but that had at least some explainable and relatable roots usually in isolation and desperation, it would only go so far. This lady was clearly just outright insane, she wasn’t living in the same reality as anyone else so there was no telling what she would do.

Her tone was almost sweet when she asked, “Now you understand, would you help me in my mission? Will you help me see the permutations?”

The other guy didn’t see the red flags or thought he was onto the right gamble so he couldn’t agree fast enough to help anyway he could. His reward was a gentle kiss on the forehead right before a bullet ripped through the middle of the lipstick mark. I’d known it was coming but the bang still made me jump.

The woman knelt down to get a closer look at the gunk splattered and oozing across the decking as if expecting something. She gave it a minuet or two before giving a resigned sigh and rounding on me with exasperation, “Always into a corpse! One day the variations will reveal themselves, I have no doubt. Still, he is changed, praise Pallas!” Again her stooges in the background joined in the catchphrase.

As she drew level with me I wasn’t in the mood to be helpful or hopeful so spat at her expecting the end. It didn’t come. She put the gun away, said something about seeing what the result of another change would be and bade me live to tell people the truth about Pallas.


There had been a dozen or so other reports logged of incidents along the same lines dating a month back at most. Obviously it was some operation to throw out wild conflicting information on the leader, maybe one of the accounts was mostly true or maybe none were even slightly close. My one seemed on the latter end of the scale but vague enough people could project interpretation on it and latch onto having superior understanding.

The purpose of it all had to be throwing smoke around and get the theories collated into a report with a big TU stamp on it the next time a higher up asked the question, likely after some bombing or other. Down the line they could get their mitts on it as a PR trophy. They’d beam it across known space to brag about the mystery of the leader with a flavour for every lowlife to identify with. They’d gloat how the Union didn’t have a clue and spread some panic to boot. The only winning move for me would be to toss out all the evidence and deny them the exposure.

Problem was deleting it all and not filing a report about an incident that had claimed two uniformed lives would be noticed and misunderstood by the myopic hierarchy. At my age and proximity to retirement’s hefty pension I wasn’t going to jump on that dismissal for the good of the public, almost certainly why it had been me that got to walk away and play messenger. Just how it always seemed to go, easy enough to follow the moves of the bizarre dance but you could never catch much of a clue what it was all in actual service of.

In a few short weeks time the whole mess would be someone else’s headache to deal with and I’d never have to think about the Palladian question again.
  • Like
Reactions: Jade Star