Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Imperial Church: Part I

The Heirophant

O_N here with another world-building article. Today, we’re going to take our first in-depth look at the heart of the Empire: the Church of Terra Ascendant.

To understand the Empire, one must understand the Church as, for without the Church, there would be no Empire. One thousand years ago, the Church brokered peace between the warring Noble Houses and forged the Empire, and it is the Church that keeps that peace, even in these tumultuous times.
To understand the Church, one must understand its origins. Like most religions, the Church began with a single man; the Nameless Prophet. Eight thousand years ago, a ship appeared in the Sol system, crewed by a single man. This man, the Nameless Prophet, claimed that he had returned from Colser, that he had seen its splendor for himself and rejected it. He said that the Colserans’ lives were hollow and that they had squandered their potential in pursuit of physical pleasures. He said that Mankind had too much potential to waste it by joining the Colserans. He said that man was the rightful heir to the Galactic Architects who shaped the galaxy, whose artifacts are the most rare and prized objects in human space. He said that, as mankind's birth world, Terra was sacred. And then he started the Church.
Once the Church was established, the Prophet embarked on the second stage of his great project. He knew that, as strong as faith was, that the temptation of Colser was stronger. The only man he could trust to run his Church was himself, but in rejecting Colser he had also rejected immortality. And so, with the help of a circle of highly-trusted bio-technicians, the Prophet constructed a cloning facility and began cloning himself.

Genesis Facility

These clones are decanted in their infancy, named, and then raised normally by the Church. At 16 years of age, each clone is sent  to Colser to see their decadent ways for themselves. None have ever failed to return. When the clones return, they preach about unity against the Colserans, their sermons empowered by their own time among the enemy. At present time, these clones comprise somewhere between one quarter and one half of the Church workforce, and a significant majority (possibly even 100%) of the Church’s preachers and missionaries. Many positions of great prominence in the Church, including the Head of the Church (the Pontifex Maximus) can only be held by these clones, and no positions are reserved for non-clones. The massive number of clones, combined with their incorruptibility, makes the Church virtually unassailable by the Colserans; assassinated Pontifexes are rapidly replaced by similar clones.

The complete incorruptibility of the clones raises a few very interesting questions. Obviously, the clones’ resistance to temptation is at least partially genetic, but how is that possible? Did the prophet simply have some ‘lucky’ combination of genetics that made him less temptable (probably due to a combination of not feeling physical sensations as strongly and a resistance to addiction)? Or was he, as some of the rumors say, a Colseran (possibly a Colseran of human origin, but still) who defected? And, if so, WHY?
The next article will go more into detail about the socioeconomic and political role of the Church. Major props to Sandwyrm for the clones idea.

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