The Chosen People, the Only People
(Gatchaman IV Tangent Story)
On a world 2 million light years from Earth, a brother and sister were born as slaves.
Their condition was not unusual; there were billions of slaves on their world, ruled over by comparatively few masters. The High Ones numbered perhaps a million, and many of them didn't even live on the planet. But they held powers no mortal could comprehend, and so they were obeyed.
And though these two were slaves, they were natives to the World of the Chosen, and that had a glory all its own. They were called the Lower Ones, but the people of the planets the Chosen ruled were the Lowest, and so even the slaves on the Chosen World were higher than these conquered lowly creatures. The brother and sister were conscious of this glory.
They were raised by an old man who loved them, and so was very cruel to them. They suffered greatly in his tender care, and became as ruthless and cold and as unforgiving of failures in themselves as their Master would be. Consequently they gained honor as favored slaves, and served their Master well.
In their thirtieth year, their Master summoned them. He had, he said, been testing them. They were genetically engineered to be his children, his son and daughter. For the Masters had no bodies, and so could not reproduce in the fashion of Lower Ones. Rather, they selected among the Lower Ones for the best, the most ruthless and brilliant. They specifically engineered the creation of children who would have the traits they sought, and gave them to a trainer who would teach them to be ruthless and efficient. Those that did not become so, died. Those that did, such as the brother and sister had, were offered the highest possible glory-- to become Selected Ones, progeny of their Master.
It was all but unheard of for one Master to select two Lower children to raise up. Their Master was conscious of this, and so he said this: these two would compete with each other to see who was more worthy. They were given freedom to do anything they could to gain ascendancy over the other, except of course to break the laws of the masters.
Now this brother and sister had none of the closeness one might expect from a pair of human siblings. Their trainer had done his work well. He was a man so clever and ruthless that none of the Selected Ones had dared choose him, for fear the child would supplant the parent. Instead, he trained the prospective larval Chosen. They had nothing but feelings of rivalry and hatred, carefully fostered by their trainer to prevent any weak emotional attachments developing between the two. And so gladly they threw all their strength into the task of defeating and killing the other.
This was how their personalities were: the man was strong and cruel, a weapons designer who enjoyed the use of brute force. He had served his Master in putting down various rebellions and helping to conquer worlds. The woman was cold and subtle, with a fine understanding of the psychology of both the Lower Ones and the Masters. She had served her Master in demoralizing the slaves of his rivals, and in causing Lowest Ones on warring worlds to turn traitor and serve the Chosen Ones as well.
At the end of their battle, neither had died. The man's successes had been greater than the woman's, but he had damaged the property of other Chosen Ones, causing his Master to be fined, while the woman had considered her Master's interests over even her success and continued life. One had demonstrated more efficiency; the other, more loyalty. Unprecendently, their Master decided he had use for both their talents, and Selected both of them.
They were taught how to absent their bodies, and animate other objects, mechanical or biological. Then their own bodies were killed, in the Metamorphosis, and their essences became beings of pure energy, to animate robotic bodies. Many larval Chosen died in the Metamorphosis, but these two lived. Then, for 100 years, they served their Master as adolescent High Ones, learning to use their powers in indenture to their creator. They learned to take both mechanical and biological bodies, though they each developed a preference. The one who had been the brother was most comfortable with powerful computer hosts. He wished to forget he had ever been a larval Lower One. The one who had been female, by contrast, often took human hosts. Though they were more easily damaged, she wished to remind herself of how it felt to be one of them. She felt that by understanding her slaves better, she could use them more effectively. By understanding the psychology of Lowest Ones, she could conquer them more easily. And by retaining a slave's instinctive understanding of the High Ones' minds, an understanding all slaves developed to better please their Masters, she could defeat her rivals more efficiently.
After these 100 years, they were sent separately on their adult proving missions. An adult proving mission, if successful, would give them full adult status as Chosen Ones. If they failed, it would mean death.
As adults, they chose their names. The one who had been male chose the name Dekaah, which meant Cypher or Unknown, that which is unknown and unknowable-- in English, X. The one who had been female kept the name she had had as a human, Isaadchaornyan-- in English, Isadora. Though still rivals, they could no longer afford to seek the other's death, for death was the penalty for killing another High One. Instead, they occupied themselves with building their own power bases, occasionally trying to win points over the other one, more often conflicting with other High Ones. X's temperament was unsuited to politics-- he was not subtle enough-- and so he chose to go offworld. Isadora's subtlety and ability to manipulate other Chosen Ones, however, won her great power on the World of the Selected Ones.
One thousand years passed. Both acquired much honor among their people, and many enemies. X was considered far too arrogant for anyone's good, and Isadora, too tremendously manipulative. The only weak point she seemed to have, in a thousand years of her enemies' plans, was her rivalry with her distant brother. X's arrogance caused him to be exiled, with orders to find a world and conquer it before he could come home. This was due in part to Isadora's machinations; but in the end, she outwitted herself, and was caught in the same trap.
One day the Council for Space Exploration received a terse message:
"I have uncovered a ripe world of low-tech Keirainoids. I'll conquer it for the greater glory of Selectro, and come home to report when I'm done.
There were no coordinates given. It was an act of supreme arrogance, X spitting in the faces of those who had exiled him. Perhaps he sought to create a private empire. Such arrogance had to be punished, but not openly, for it was legally no crime to withhold coordinates.
Isadora's rivals saw this as the perfect opportunity. It was pointed out to those who feared X's arrogant ambition that if Isadora were sent to locate him, she would probably kill him, or he her, no matter what orders she was actually given. This would eliminate the annoyance of one or both of them. If Isadora won, she would be forced to send the coordinates, since it was power on the homeworld she sought after. If it were X, he could be located and executed for Isadora's murder, since he would not be subtle enough to hide the evidence. Enough parties feared either X or Isadora that the Selected Ones were able to force Isadora into exile, to locate X and aid him in his conquest. She was angry, but she could not disobey the massed will of her people. She left.
Twenty years of searching, and she found the world X had gone to. But she was far subtler than her opponents gave her credit for. The treasure X had found was a world with a direct passage to Keirai. X apparently did not know this, but Isadora had learned it from an exiled Keiraine woman she had captured. Keirai, ancient enemy of Selectro, guarded all the passages toward it that it knew of, but according to the woman, it did not know of this one. So this world could have tremendous strategic importance as a base against Keirai. It could become a wartime epicenter, and due to its great distance from the Empire, it would have to be practically autonomous-- whoever ruled here would have unimaginable power. And it seemed that X did not know that.
Isadora wouldn't kill X. She wouldn't even work against him. The Keiraine woman had already aided the natives against her rival, and Isadora was not one to underestimate the flesh creatures, the Lowest Ones. That aid would ensure X would have a long, hard battle ahead of him. He would probably win, but he would be too weak at its end to prevent Isadora's wresting his prize from him. She conditioned the Keiraine woman to go mad with terror at the thought of giving any more aid to her human lover, or even seeing him again, but let the woman go free alive-- if it seemed X would win too easily, she could always cause the woman to go back to her lover. She of course removed the woman's memories of being broken and conditioned, and caused her to believe that her children, now Isadora's captives, were dead.
Then Selectro was destroyed. Devastated, Isadora went to X, feeling that they could forget their rivalry in this grief they both shared. But X knew that Isadora had part in exiling him, and was unwilling to forget their rivalry for a moment. He had learned the significance of this world, but to him, all it meant was a way to hurt Isadora-- since she wanted this world so badly, he would destroy it, and return home to learn how it had happened. Isadora was unable to dissuade X from seeking Earth's destruction, and powerless to stop the destruction itself.
Fortunately, she didn't need to stop it-- a small group of humans did that, and the Earth was saved. X realized this, of course, and returned from his investigations two Earth years later. He had discovered that the World of the Chosen People had been destroyed by a coalition of Keirai and the natives of Fuyuress, in the Proxima system, practically next door to Earth. The Keiraines had found the gateway to Earth, but hadn't taken it to Earth-- the gateway also led to Fuyuress, and the people of Fuyuress were teleporters, who had somehow moved a star into Selectro's system, destroying it instantly. Driven more than half mad by exile and the destruction of his world, X conceived a plan to move Earth's sun into Fuyuress' system, and destroy it the way his own world had been destroyed. His plan would never have accomplished what he intended, but it would have destroyed the Earth and its entire solar system.
Now more than ever, Earth was valuable to Isadora-- it could be a rallying point for the surviving Selectrans, a power base against both Keirai and Fuyuress. She could not permit its destruction. So she gave the people of Earth poisoned gifts to use in their battle with her mad brother.
She caused X's psychic servant to regain her memories and seek out her mother, which caused her in the end to turn on X and die. X was mostly destroyed, but two parts of him lived on-- one in the body of a mutant girl, the other in a fragment of X's destroyed spaceship body. The second part, calling itself Z, continued to seek Earth's destruction. Isadora, learning of Z's existence, provided Earthmen with information, through intermediaries, that led to the creation of a powerful weapon. The weapon had the power to resist Z, even destroy him, but would in the end destroy its wielder as well.
Finally Z was killed. Isadora did not yet know of the surviving bit of X remaining. But she suspected, and until she was sure, she would not make her move. The defenders of Earth, who had destroyed X and Z, were still young and strong; she had the time to wait, to find and exploit their weaknesses, or to wait until age destroyed them, as it would destroy all humans. Meanwhile she would gather her agents, using her understanding of psychology to remain far deeper hidden than X did, turning the castoffs of X's breeding projects to her advantage.
She was immortal, ageless; she had all the time in the world...