Subliminal Manipulations
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Five-thousand years ago from humanity's thoughts and ideas on the unknown, we coalesced into self-aware beings without physical form.
Humanity's current trajectory is counter to that of the natural flow of the universe.
They verge on matters that we must keep out of their reach.

Part 1, Some Assembly Required

An autumn breeze rolled into the studio apartment, rustling papers and fast food wrappers. A brown haired and lanky man lay on a bed in a corner of the room, unmolested by the draft. The picture of a blond haired woman with a red scarf sitting precariously on a dresser fell to the ground with a thud.

Ted's head greeted him with a pounding pain, a token of appreciation for the adventure he had led with the other researchers the last night. The "Beer Pong King" got off his bed and stumbled towards the coffeemaker.

Ignorant of the invader, the humbled royal mumbled.

"Coffee, must find coffee…"

Ted looked to the fallen picture, clutched his hands, and sighed deeply.

Claire…

He picked the picture back up and gently stroked it with his thumb before returning it to the dresser. Then the bachelor shambled through the living room and stood next to his laptop, still open on the end table.

A foreign urge to check his email had interrupted his caffeine quest.

Closing Leisure Suit Larry III and opening his personal email, his mouse pointer hovered over the vestigial folder titled "Spam" in the lefthand column.

Struck once again by an uncharacteristic pang of interest, he began chuckling at the thought.

I wonder what offers for male enhancement and declarations of love I will find?

Bemusedly skimming the pointer across the titles of a few blatant scams, a message caught his attention. All interest in Brazilian milkmaids and methods to "increase your income from home" was forgotten.

Most puzzling was the fact that it had no sender. The correspondence also lacked a subject and any contents, save one attachment, a Microsoft Word document titled "Print Me".

Curious, Ted complied.

He walked up to the wireless printer, the start of the first page only beginning to emerge.

As Ted stared at the device, a thought entered his mind.

Good, it's nearly out of red ink.

Wait, why would that matter? It's probably all black text, anyway.

Ted shook his head. Coffee, that was what he needed.

With a beep, signaling that a cartridge was empty, the printer continued whirring for a few more lines and stopped.

Ted looked at the document, now halted halfway out of the machine. He nodded, recognizing it as the beginning of a novel. It was in a rust-red font with some occasional letters blue or purple.

Ted inspected further. A hidden message remained in the blue letters.

"Huh?"

Ted took a step away. A shiver ran down his spine, unsure of exactly how he had arrived at the decisions that led him here. He stood staring at the computer screen, a look of indecision on his face.

In the end, his curiosity won out over his caution.

He approached the printer to review the page.

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.
Through one of the obscurest quarters of London, and among haunts little loved by the gentlemen of the police, a man, evidently of the lowest orders, was wending his solitary way. He stopped twice or thrice at different shops and houses of a description correspondent with the appearance of the quartier in which they were situated, and tended inquiry for some article or another which did not seem easily to be met with. All the answers he received were couched in the negative; and as he turned from each door he muttered to himself, in no very elegant phraseology, his disappointment and discontent. At length, at one house, the landlord, a sturdy butcher, after rendering the same reply the inquirer had hitherto received, added, “But if this vill do as vell, Dummie, it is quite at your sarvice!” Pausing reflectively for a moment, Dummie responded that he thought the thing proffered might do as well; and thrusting it into his ample pocket, he strode away with as rapid a motion as the wind and the rain would allow.

The sound of a knock at the door tore his gaze from the text.

Approaching the entrance to his apartment, he scratched his unkempt brown beard. He peeked through the peephole to see a figure in a brown uniform walking away.

Opening the door, Ted turned his attention downwards to a UPS package on the floor.

Wasn't that Xbox supposed to arrive next week?

Like the email, the UPS package also lacked a "From" address.

Arching an eyebrow, Ted brought the package inside. Opening the box, he found an assortment of metal components.

For a moment, stupidly, he wished Claire was there.

He then returned to the printer and clicked "OK" to its offer to "Continue Print Job with Remaining Ink".

Ted read the visible portion of the decoded message aloud.

"We are the Attendants of Requital. Connect the rods to the spheres…"

Assembling the strange device, Ted noticed an Anderson Robotics logo on one of the pieces.

"Didn't they open a location not too far from here about a month ago?" Ted said, grabbing a few more pages from the printer and continued unabated.

In the end, the device looked like a steel Rolodex, with sphere centered disks on a segmented rod replacing the cards. All that remained in the box was a small bottle with two small pills inside and a label reading "Open Upon Activation".

He tried spinning the disks, poking it, and turning the little knob on the side to no avail.

With a frustrated look on his face, Ted picked up the phone.


We are self-fulfilling prophecies.
Called forth and born of humanity.
Oracles to our purpose. We guide their fate.
We will prune the buds seeking and spreading the forbidden and shepherd the flock.
Go cover our tracks and plant the seed.



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