And He Must Always Hurt



ArcOS 1.14




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My vision 'reeked_with truth. It had th3 tone,
The qu'1ddity" and" quaintness of 1ts own=Reality
It w,as. AAs time_went on.
Its constant vertical in triumph shone.

Accepted. This session will not be tracked by database scryers.

Welcome: Eyes Agent Cathedra-046

Formerly known as Miter-683 Aspe-841 Atrium-519 Pieve-012 [ … ]

Reminder: Your next identity change will occur in five days.

Opening case file in edit mode:
Academia Dissident SAINT_ORVALD_UNIVERSITY-092-A

29|04|1995 :

I've deleted the previous text. The investigation is finished. We have a 25 year-old male student in █████ ██████ University, pretty clearly unhappy in the diaries he writes in his personal terminal. Their subjects run parallel to the reading journals he writes and submits to his class. The Eyes were notified by the school database security watchman - amazing that they even have one. Or memory-capable database access at all. Most local watch commands don't. Anyway this guy's a combat veteran so they're more concerned than with the usual dumb 18 year-old kid.

I've read most of his dissident writings, and now having received the background audit request from Intelligence in the ██████████ Command Pyramid I'm moving forward to personally engage with the subject. University security will be notified that the Eyes have investigated and will deal with the subject accordingly. They'll remove him from their immediate-action database.

Including his most recent dissident entry here, the rest are roughly similar in tone and severity. Sending the full collection of files to the Macula. Good luck finding it there.

One (1) attached text file:

29|04|1995 :


Displaying text.

There's been more thinking, reflecting. I've been reading Dos Santos and his Dependency Theory. A classic treatise on the state of pre-Central affairs. Economically dominant countries can expand and be self-sustaining, while the developing world fills with dependent countries whose economies only grow as a meek reflection. Their economies are built around exports, to acquire the capital needed to invest in other sectors of their economy, but that's poison.

It ends in overspecialization, inefficiencies, an economy that develops at the behest of international owners of capital instead of domestic forces (which are ignored). The seller is naturally at the mercy of the buyer, especially when the buyer makes the harvesting equipment, owns the shipping lines, invests you with "aid" dripping with attached strings… Raw resources and cheap labor, the only valuable thing a dependent country has, are ruthlessly exploited. They sell raw goods on a monopolized world market that devalues them to enrich industrial products.

So they drink from a poison chalice of the world market. My words, not his. Circumstantially autocratic political systems keeping the capital flowing, superexploited labor under artificially lowered wages. Translate that: corruption at every level, a rich elite, and human suffering. Human suffering! People, people in a fixed economy robbed of a better life and laboring for pennies.

I get it. It's unequal. And Authority stooges will boast endlessly in academia that they fixed it. I'm reading Dos Santos as a historical relic.

But I've been thinking. I can't stop seeing this now, everywhere I look, the evils they make trying to end evil.

So the Central has reduced the world economy. Rigidly controls it, and rigidly controls as many domestic economies as it can reach. Grab the skull of a developing country, twist it to look inwards, purge the corrupt local elites… that's good! People are better off in a state-run local automobile factory than slaving away in a plantation so their el Presidente can buy a Mercedes. Who cares about the lost growth. Only lost growth in dominant countries.

But. Making economies more independent only encourages the worst impulses of the Regional Directors. The Central has always struggled with regionalism, its accountability and the quality of its personnel can't keep up with the pace of expansion. Seems like a revolving door of leadership in some places. My god, has a lot of evil been borne out of the worst Directors, and it poisons the Central when it must clamp down on Directors' worst excesses, or worse be forced to back them up. Economic interdependence would reign them in, somewhat, but about that…

And cutting off the raw goods from dependent countries, only have to pick up a history book to read on how badly that hurt some dominant countries. Some folks didn't accept the drastic wage decreases, that their children would be worse off "for a better world", I can't blame them. How many people got disillusioned to our great cause that only ever hurt them? More poison into the Central.

You see it, endlessly. Anomaly control, Protectors, the campaigns against Free China. Central must turn to violence to solve problems of its own makings. But violence, god, and I know this. Violence just creates more violence. Makes enemies. Leaves broken people in its wake and they grow up to fill that void with anger, hate, the worse human impulses and can we blame them? I can't. I protected my brothers, of course. I'd die for them. Nearly did. I killed for them.

I don't know. They shouldn't give soldiers so much time to think. Should've accepted Gary's offer. Spend my WIA education on trade school, not this. Was terrible at field maintenance, sure. But I can learn. Anyone can learn with enough force behind it. Most folks aren't born killers.

One (1) attached dual-media file:

01|05|1995 :


Displaying transcript.

Transcription Log Directory:
C-046: Eyes Agent Cathedra-046
092-A: Dissident Subject █████ █ ████████ case.fl092-A

This space is intentionally left blank.

Cathedra-046 instructs Assistant Dean ████ █████ to summon 092-A to their office under conventional pretexts. 092-A does not flee or react with obvious fear when confronted by Cathedra-046, who chooses not to wear a guise of Dean █████.

<recording begins>

092-A: Jesus. You're with the Eyes.

C-046: I am. Do you know why I'm visiting you today, █████?

092-A: I can guess, yeah. Wrote bad things.

092-A's expression wavers. 092-A regains and maintains his composure for the rest of the transcript.

092-A: Doubt it'll make a difference, but I never spoke out. Never spoke against Central. You probably have a way of knowing that.

C-046: A conscientious gesture, for sure.

092-A: Yeah. Gesture. I only ever wrote my doubts.

C-046: On a Database-linked private terminal, yes.

092-A: Oh, god.

C-046: It's - I shouldn't drag this out. It's clearly torturous for you. This isn't punishment. It's not a prelude for torture, disappearing, all those nasty endings racing through your mind right now. Of course you may never speak of this meeting to your friends or family.

092-A: Of course.

C-046: Good. This is a job offer. Not for a front company, not a retinue, it's naked recruitment for the Eyes. Popular name for the Authority Central Intelligence agency, whose logo is four bloody eyes gazing upon Earth from each cardinal direction. I do strive for clarity when I'm allowed to display it. You would too, if you were as immersed with lies as an Eyes agent must. I - I've been clear, yes?

A pause.

092-A: Crystal.

C-046: Good. I'll field your questions now.

092-A: Yeah. Uh, where to start. Uh. The one you're probably prepared for most. Why me?

C-046: Thank you, yes. This makes it easier on my end. Simple answer. You're the kind of person the Eyes needs.

092-A: What- criticizing Central policy?

C-046: Yes! And more, of course. What were you writing about -? Poison in the Central's veins. A reflective mind is, the opposite of poison.

092-A: From what I understand, the Eyes aren't-

A pause.

092-A: I'm, uh. Choosing my words carefully.

C-046: The Eyes are the closest thing the Central Protection Authority has to a conscience, █████.

A pause.

C-046: You're right, you know. The Regional Directors have unreasonable amounts of power. And with an ambitious Researcher, ungodly power. We broke Pandora's Box. Burned it and scattered its ashes to the four winds and the four eyes of the Eyes will chase them to the ends of time.

092-A: Is speaking like a poet a requirement for the Eyes?

C-046: No, but most choose to. We work through reputation. Remember the terror you felt when you found me here in Dean █████'s office? Flowery prose helps an inscrutable image. We still kill people, of course.

092-A: Some swear the Eyes are omniscient. Every purge and every excess and everything is as you allow it. All to Central's ends. That's not true, is it? From your own mouth. Image is important. How much of your… monolith is bluffing?

C-046: █████, you will learn its precise balance if you join us. Every secret of the Central. The absolute truth. You crave that.

092-A: Yeah. You got me there.

A pause.

092-A: Chasing a box's ashes to the ends of time.

C-046: And then we murdered Pandora for opening the box, when the Central was responsible for it.

092-A: I, uh. Don't think I should agree with that.

C-046: You'll stop self-censoring, in time. God - you know, you're right again. Anti-anomaly measures, anomalies can spread through words and thoughts like any viral infection, so we put in measures against that. Pile on overzealous security forces, corrupt Regional authorities, overeager researchers with their ungodly 'solutions', the Eyes hauling people off without ever being able to explain why. I wish I could. Most of it isn't senseless brutality, but over time that's all people see… and in trying to change the narrative, clear our names, Central produces the most odious, anti-intellectual propaganda, just pure crap.

092-A: Why not make better propaganda?

C-046: Oh, bombastic stuff's the most effective for the masses. Supposedly. And all the finest people are in the field, always. Anomalies are not an exaggerated threat. They get a little worse, every year. We must get a little tougher, a little bleaker, every year. Wastrels get to sit in chairs and type missives.

092-A: I see.

C-046: You're not a fresh-faced starry-eyed student. You served your time.

092-A: Yessir. Three years in the █████ ██ Regiment of Foot.

C-046: So you're not blind to Central's faults.

092-A: Far from it.

C-046: And we're back round the circle, to the first question. The Eyes need you. We need thinkers, intact morals, we need men that can see the evil in Central and articulate it clearly, without excuses.

092-A: So we can fix it.

C-046: Tell me, do you have regrets from your service? Things, acts that you, a decent human, were forced into doing? By Central? By circumstance, kill or be killed?

A pause.

092-A: Yes.

C-046: You never wanted to hurt those people. In another world it would have been different.

092-A: Is that, a specific reference to…?

C-046: No. But it's fairly accurate, for most veterans.

092-A: Yeah.

C-046: Does it still hurt?

092-A: I- Jesus. You want me to say yes, huh?

Slight noise as C-046 nods.

C-046: Listen closely. This is my answer. That's exactly what we look for. An Eyes agent must always be guilty. He must always hurt. Must never make excuses. He must, always, feel. And not grow numb to the use of power.

092-A: Sounds miserable.

C-046: This is a miserable world for many.

092-A: Why make good people act against their true selves? Don't we have enough propaganda-chugging stooges to fill the ranks? They won't have second thoughts. Less pain all round.

C-046: That's precisely what must be avoided. What must be avoided. You have no idea, the power humanity wields now. The anomalies we have shackled. The Protectors we have created. The gods we have killed. If we give that over to numb men, to brutal men, to unthinking stooges-

A pause.

C-046: My God. We'll be worse than anything that came before.

A pause.

C-046: I still believe in the Righteous cause. There's so much good in the world. The scales of justice are overloaded on both ends, I believe in the Central. You do too, I think.

092-A: There's just a lot of grime to wash away.

C-046: Yes. That's exactly it. Grime staining a good cause.

092-A: That perfect statue. The heart of Lady Justice. So say the leaflets.

C-046: Yes. We'll never reach it. Despite what the propagandists say we have already done. Humans are not perfect. Anomalies generally bring out the worst in us.

092-A: Yeah. God, that's true.

C-046: But we can reach. I said, Central could be worse than anything before. It's not, yet. The opposite is also true. Central could, it could be damn near heaven on Earth. The greatest good for the greatest number of people. There's so much work to be done. The Eyes have a strong role in every part.

092-A: I- I want to. You're making a hell of a case. But I don't see a super spy in me. Or a man that changes identities as often as Eyes agents do.

C-046: Yes, well. I was Miter, Aspe, and Atrium in the last month, that's true. Symbols of old papal authority or church architecture. Obviating your sense of self is important, but it's just words. I'm still me, under all the masks. A half-remembered name I cannot tell you.

092-A: Yeah, I have trouble imagining that. As me.

C-046: You're a soldier and a scholar. Fertile soil. What, you think Eyes agents grow on trees? Are designed from birth?

092-A: I wouldn't have doubted, if you'd told me…

Both laugh.

C-046: No, they're made. I would of course never speak about the Eyes so frankly to a normal citizen. Or even the Regional Director.

092-A: I think you think I'm a done deal.

C-046: Am I right?

092-A: Yeah. Seems it.

C-046: Good. How soon can you pack and leave your cube?

092-A: Uh, like fifteen minutes.

C-046: Good! That's the old soldier in you, isn't it?

092-A: Yeah. Habits like that don't die. Could still bounce a coin off my bedsheets every morning.

The sound of chairs scraping on the floor as both rise to stand.

C-046: Ah, well, you should've seen one recruit I had. Brilliant, brilliant girl. Smarter than me. But from an old European family, the baggage train-

Noise of C-046 fumbling through his trenchcoat to turn off the voice recorder.

C-046: Almost forgot. Don't need this anymore-

<recording ends>



Personal details of subject 092-A have been scrubbed from this file via automatic process.

REASON STATED: Recruitment

//Closing file

╏ Automatic Annual Authority intranet-crawler scryer sweep (AAAicS) 1996


Complete. No intranet worms, data anomalies, etc detected.

╏ Automatic Annual Authority intranet-crawler scryer sweep (AAAicS) 1997


Complete. No intranet worms, data anomalies, etc detected.

╏ Automatic Annual Authority intranet-crawler scryer sweep (AAAicS) 1998


Complete. No intranet worms, data anomalies, etc detected.

╏ Automatic Annual Authority intranet-crawler scryer sweep (AAAicS) 1999


Complete. No intranet worms, data anomalies, etc detected.

╏ Automatic Annual Authority intranet-crawler scryer sweep (AAAicS) 2000


Complete. No intranet worms, data anomalies, etc detected.

You are accessing this database from an
off-Site portable terminal.

Enter your six-step ID followed by its clarion call.

Failure to do so will accrue certain consequence
to your mind and person.




Often when troubled by the outer glare
Of street and strife, inward I'd turn, and there,
There in the background of my soul 1t stood,
Old Faithful! And its presence always would
Console me wonderfully. Then, one day,
I came across what seemed a twin display.


Accepted. This session will not be tracked by database scryers.

Welcome: Eyes Agent Crozier-667

Formerly known as Prothesis-038 Incense-981 Atrium-302 Bishophric-237 [ … ]

Reminder: Your next identity change will occur in twelve days.

Opening case file in edit mode:
Academia Dissident SAINT_ORVALD_UNIVERSITY-092-A

The Eyes don't have eulogies. We don't hold the memory of our fallen in any database. Don't worship them like the Maintenance Union does - or any organization with a sense of history, really. Even the meanest, dirtiest technician gets a log of his existence in a dusty terminal. Not the Eyes. Scrubs the records when we die. No sense of self, right? Makes a dutiful, humble servant.

Can only hold the memories in your heart. And here, in my old case file, the one to start my service in the Eyes. Can leave a quiet mark.

I received word today that the man I first knew as Cathedra-046 has died. I'll never know how or where. He was one of those guys, you treasure every memory and word. Every lesson they imparted on you. And you dearly wish circumstance had allowed you more time with them before their passing. His existence, where he was, quieted your doubts of the Central.

Eyes database flags files for review when they're edited 250+ words, will have to end soon.

Writing this from the cargo belly of a transport plane. Place is filled with troopers, wearing my mask among them. Crozier here, Sergeant Bratislava to them. I'll reveal myself once we get to the trenches outside Kunming.

God, that's not enough. For a man like him.

I'm still hurting. I still feel. I know I must. We're not much worse or better overall. If he could endure, so can I.

//Closing file

And He Must Always Hurt » Liminal Bridge

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