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Winston
August 10th, 2019, 11:03 PM
Letter to The Regent
Year of our Most Holies 11042, Cycle 203
Subject: Confidential, Eyes of High Council Only

Humbly submitted by:
Rax Fencourt, Acting Minister of Science and Inquiry (AMSI)


Your Highness,

First, my thanks and humble gratitude for the opportunity and honor to conduct this investigation for The Council. I understand the controversial nature of this subject, and look forward to serving You and The Council in any matter that pleases the Regency at the conclusion of this matter.

I was charged with the inter-disciplinary inquiry of collecting diverse and sometimes conflicting data regarding the nature, causes and possible solutions for our current situation. The opinions included in this report are those of the individuals I interviewed. The blanket offer of preemptive Regent clemency was offered, and the information gathered should be considered to be truthful and accurate.

As per the Edict of Trems, Science and Scripture must be in concordance. Although the following observed data may seem to contradict certain aspects of scripture, nothing noted in this report is intended to be heretical, and the contributors and myself encourage the earliest reconciliation between the findings of this report and Holy Canon.



As we all know, Ahura spoke all things into existence 300 generations ago. He set his Hand, and all was thus. However, after the advent of navigational optics, rouge scientists have been making observations of the black night sky. Early reports of faint points of distant light were dismissed as heresy, and the rantings of drunkards. Suppression and confiscation of illegal telescopes began, but the rumors continued. The Si-Ahiri of the Lower Kingdoms continued the controversial research in violation of the Edict of Trems.
Today it is established: Our star Helios is not the only star in His cosmos.

It wasn't long after this that agnostics and heretics began formulating obscene theories that our people were not alone in the cosmos. That each point of light may be like our own, with it's own people. The Bloody Purge of 10993 crushed such unscientific speculation, but it seemed only temporarily.

Advances in other disciplines such as physics and mathematics have confirmed that these points of light are not only stars like our own, they are very much like our own Helios. Most are similar diameter, white to blue in hue and giving off similar heat. And while there is no proof that that they have terrestrial planets like ours, there is no indication that they do not.

Inquiry and observation has continued over the last few generations, including the establishment of the Grand Observatory in Kel. Our scientists have been devout, but they have also made accurate and irrefutable observations. They have compared their findings with their peers in the Lower Kingdoms, and Lesser States. It is based on those observations that I must submit these findings.

His Honorable Bek Siod of the Great Observatory Group (GOG) has made the following observations. Our nearest star, Ra Ceti, is dimming. It has been consistently losing luminosity since it's first observation on Cycle 117, YMH 10091. Variations with similar observational devices and controlling for atmospheric conditions do not change the findings.

Additionally, and more disturbingly, Bek and his staff have been observing a more distant star named Mi Beta IV. As a distant stellar body, observations were intermittent due to weather and other conditions. Regardless, as of two seasons ago, Mi Beta is no longer visible. Our physicists all agree that it could not have moved, nor simply "blinked" out of existence (based on our current scientific understanding).

Chief Chemist Rol Lough has theorized that all stars burn a type of "star fuel" that is of some finite amount. Since stars are of similar, but not exact sizes, they will burn out their fuel at different rates. The impact of such a theory, should it be widely circulated, could cause a widespread panic. Especially when combined with Bek's observational data.

I have consulted with the Gran Overseer at the department of Physical Inquiry. Analyzing all of the available data points brings us to one of three conclusions:
The data is wrong,
Ra Ceti and Mi Beta are outliers or
Helios is special, protected by the Hand of Ahura.

With all due respect, I already know which conclusion The Council will embrace. But for the sake of thoroughness (which I was commissioned), let us explore where the data does point: Someday, Helios may grow dim too.

"Someday" may be the vital variable here. Our understanding of cosmology puts the age of All Things in the hundreds of billions of years. Possibly many trillion. Scripture tells us that in the Time Before His People, there were giants in the sky, and one by one Ahura crushed them. Some giants were worship by demons, and he smote them too. We don't know how long ago this was, but we simply assumed that what Ahura left was to be for all time. Maybe it will be.

But even the scriptures themselves tell of a day when He will call His people Home. I'm no theologian, and I'll leave that to others that are more qualified in that field.

My point is, regardless of practical and other considerations, we can no longer assume our word is in a steady state of equilibrium. This is not in conflict with His word, but even if it seems to be, it is because of our lack of understanding of all things, including the meaning of The Scripture.

Today, the Economic Board is considering placing restrictions on the burning of arbor fuel due to concerns of smoke and heat pollution. Ironically, after conversing with the Gran Overseer, it is his opinion that the smoke from such fires may be masking the measurable effect of our own star cooling. He calls it a "Hothouse Effect", but admits that his thesis is currently unproven and not testable on a wide-scale.

I will remind His Regency and The Council of the project currently under development in The Lower Kingdoms. They plan to launch lighter-than-air craft, equipped with experimental machines that measure so-called "unseen light" from Helios and other distant stars. Based on my current observations, I predict that they will find data to support wide-spread stellar dimming. Including Helios.

The good news is there is absolutely no indication that Helios will burn up it's fuel, and fade away any time soon. However, there are strong indicators that it will someday.
On a personal note, this prospect does not frighten me. There were those before me, and there will be others after me. We all eventually go back to Him.

And I think of the Scripture, in The Time Before His People. It speaks of the demons, but also of angels. I wonder if they had similar problems, similar lives. Bad harvests and bandits. Joy and loss. And I wonder, after us, who will write our story? After the last star dims, and the cosmos grows cold, and we are all in the arms of Ahura.
I suppose it doesn't matter. It may even be heretical, but it's just a thought.


In conclusion, all of the above findings should be suppressed as quickly as possible. The key persons noted above need to be re-assigned and given new, stringent loyalty oaths.
I would humbly suggest that we activate any available agents in The Lower Kingdom to sabotage their new project.
There is no foreseeable good outcome by this information being made public. Harvests and public projects have already been hampered by early frosts and freezes. The societal disruption from these quasi-apocalyptic rumors would serve no one well.

Please feel free to summon me for clarification, if needed. I will be vacationing in my dacha near Equinox. And of course, Your Highness and Most Revered Council have an open invitation to join me in the warm sun along the river. As you are aware, it is most beautiful this time of year.

Respectfully Submitted,
Your Most Humble Servant,
R. Fencourt

Nadinarte
August 13th, 2019, 10:16 AM
Hello! Thank you so much for posting this short story (although, more than a short story, it comes across as the introduction of something...?)
I like the idea that this hypothetical world is in parallel with our own. I am guessing that these guys haven't fully understood the nature of space (and suppressed any researches towards the study of it) and produce loads of pollution without actually knowing that the sun is not an infinite body. True, though, that if the sun is dying it wouldn't be cooling down towards its end. Instead, it will expand until it engulfs all planets around. This is our sun, of course. I don't know what sort of sun is the Helios in your story.
In any case, maybe it's not relevant because these people are suppressing researches about space due to their religious beliefs so it implies that they don't really know much about the life cycle of a star.
The character is torn, in substance it's like "oh these researches prove the opposite of what I believed, I wonder if it's true and maybe there are other intelligent species out there...never mind, let's get rid of all proof because I'm being heretical." (ಥ⌣ಥ)


The Bloody Purge of 10993 crushed such unscientific speculation, but it seemed only temporarily.

Why, in a world where there are things such as are purges of scientific researchers, a guy would dare write to the council to say staff that would make him be suspected to be an heretic? As if he's doubtful. He's trying to convince them that there is something to find out about the stars, but he's apologizing if he sounds heretic and denying his own words. I quote:


And I think of the Scripture, in The Time Before His People. It speaks of the demons, but also of angels. I wonder if they had similar problems, similar lives. Bad harvests and bandits. Joy and loss. And I wonder, after us, who will write our story? After the last star dims, and the cosmos grows cold, and we are all in the arms of Ahura.
I suppose it doesn't matter. It may even be heretical, but it's just a thought.

Firstly, you start the letter very formally and the structure of it is pretty wordy, then you begin a paragraph with "and" and end it with a colloquial "but it's just a thought."
It's a bit strange, that's all I am saying.
Something that would have improved my reading experience would have been a softer approach with the wording, less unknown terms. It's a short text and we don't know the context, it starts with so many foreign words and I don't know what they refer to.

What is very good about the story is the idea of a different race of people, on another planet, having some sort of reflection about the existence of other intelligent species, out there in the universe, that have gone through the same troubles as they did.
We, as the readers, are on the other side connecting with this troubled person that is wondering the same things as we are. Very interesting.
I apologize for my harsh critique, I get really much in depth with my analysis. (ง ◕ั⌑◕ั)ว

Trollheart
September 1st, 2019, 01:23 AM
I really liked this. I admit, the written-letter format and the information in it (Year of the Most Holies etc) drew me in. I like the idea of there being not even separation of Church and State, but that it seems that here Church IS State, or vice versa. I appreciate the sudden jolt when, when it looks as if the letter-writer is advocating "heretical" theories and beliefs, he (sorry I just assume it's a he; in a theocracy which appears to be very much male-dominated I'm assuming women don't get positions of power, could be wrong of course) turns that around and says just suppress all this. A little "Nineteen Eighty-Four" or "Fahrenheit 451" there.

I like the mention of the dacha - gives an impression of this being Tsarist (or later Soviet) Russia, with all the attendant obey-the-State which that implies, and the ecology aspect (global warming) idea is very good too: the greenhouse effect is universal, even if here they describe it as the hothouse effect.

One small niggle: I would have had him recommend that the "heretical scientists" were "put to death quickly to quash any rumours of such heresy" rather than just reassigned. Other than that, thoroughly enjoyable story. Nice one.

LaMDoH123
September 8th, 2019, 04:37 PM
You did an excellent job world-building in such a small space of words. Already there's a sense of history and culture to this world that feels familiar to it's inhabitants, as well as a sense of time. Overall the writing was good, although the "formal letter" did stray into informality at some points. That's ok if perhaps Fencourt and the Ruler are old friends (in which case it could be from "Your Most Humble Servant and Friend"), but otherwise it is a little jarring. It's also odd to talk about "reassigning" heretical scientists when just a bit earlier bloody purges were mentioned, but perhaps times have changed? Some reference to "political impossibilities" might not be out of place here.

Also, and this is just me, I was really hoping for a note at the end from an Inquisitor or somesuch, saying that Fencourt will need watching. Maybe even executing.

Ralph Rotten
September 8th, 2019, 05:36 PM
That's actually a great little prologue that would go far in establishing the world where your story takes place. You painted a fascinating world where theology rules and controls life with a tight grip (and apparently holding back scientific progress substantially since you mention their calendar is 10,000 years old.)

My only detraction tho would the calendar. If these are 10,000 EARTH years then I'd find it hard to believe that this church had held them in its grip that long...but these could very well be shorter years. If their star is a red dwarf, then their green-zone is much closer to the star and their year would be fractional of an Earth year.

So this was indeed a great little intro to a book, sort of setting the scene in a very efficient manner.

Winston
September 8th, 2019, 07:24 PM
My only detraction tho would the calendar. If these are 10,000 EARTH years then I'd find it hard to believe that this church had held them in its grip that long...but these could very well be shorter years. If their star is a red dwarf, then their green-zone is much closer to the star and their year would be fractional of an Earth year.

I'm glad someone got that. This is set billions of years in our future, in a galactic area with nothing but stellar dwarves (white and blue) left.
Life could rise in a "goldilocks zone" around one of those dwarves. That zone should be closer to the parent star, and thus a much shorter (and quicker) orbital period. Like our Mercury.

Regardless, the point was to introduce a very alien world, yet one that was familiar from a humanistic view. People with our same flaws.
The narrator does come off as conflicted. But I think any rational person in a bureaucratic theocracy would.

Thanks for the read and the crit.