The Great Work

Summary of Volume 1 of my Dissertation on ‘The Great Work’.

Iolest (author of The Great Work)
Gender: Female. Ethnicity: unknown. Her existence is traceable back before the pan-galactic expansion of humankind, therefore, Old Galaxy. She refers to herself as ‘Personal and Business Assistant to Rak Strez’. She is very tidy by nature and likes her environment tidy too — she notes, “If I sleep in his bed, I don’t mess up my room”.
Rak Strez ( an associate of her early years)
Gender : Male. Ethnicity: unknown, presumed similar to Iolest. Only scraps of his writings remain. As a ‘Futures Investor’, he manipulates the good and bad luck surrounding business transactions to influence his personal wealth. He is not very successful. Iolest remarks he, “lacks focus”. He values her tidiness and that she maintains their business records “So scrupulously exact, that there isn’t a scrap of useful data left in them.” (his words.)

Following a serious loss of face amongst his colleagues, Rak Strez and Iolest obtained a space cruiser and departed for deep space.
After an uncertain pseudo-period, they arrived at a globular cluster consisting of a few thousand suns surrounding a black hole. To maximise the wealth associated with the massive energy gradient, several stars had been nudged into dangerous orbits round the black hole. The vast wealth, and implicit risks, attracted Rak Strez’s avarice.
Unfortunately, his role in the ‘bad luck’ that cause tens of stellar systems to slide over the event horizon to destruction in the crushing maw of the black hole, was, of necessity, public. The hideous death of billions of sentients and the bankruptcy of half the galaxy left Rak Strez immensely wealthy. He and Iolest decided to retire. He remarks that he “left it to Iolest to tidy up behind them”. From her writings we know that, after a set of devious moves, they filed a claim on an uncharted star system and employed terraformers to constructed a planet to Iolest’s specification.
The planet was sterile. All local flora and fauna, synthesized on demand, was either beautiful or cuddly and could be put away tidily when not required. Here, they built a pleasure palace.
Rak Strez proposed a life of idleness and debauchery. Iolest poked her finger into his midriff fat and remarked the she trusted that she was still the sole beneficiary of his will.
Shortly, Rak Strez returned and proposed a natural, healthy life as woodcutter with a wife and family. Iolest demurred. The supplier of the low gravity gym had offered an introductory price on six menomorphs. ‘Guaranteed 100% functional. Medically confirmed sterile, Settings range from ‘Courtly Attentive’ to ‘Macho Demanding’. Each can be packed, tidily, in a storage case when not required’. However, there was the will, so she didn’t mention this to Rak Strez.
She seems to have enjoyed the rustic life — but soon her pregnancy began to intrude into the frolics. First ensuring that the, deviously copied, encryption keys worked in all his strong boxes, Iolest, bought him another wife, and retired to the pleasure palace. Further wives were added as required. But, the rural retreat had its attractions, there were many repeats in the cycle, Iolest, herself, contributed five children.
After a few hundred years, possibly due to a computer glitch, Rak Strez managed to fell his first tree and was killed in the process.
Iolest withdrew his will, tidied it up, and obtained probate without problems. She convinced the other wives that their continued standard of living depended on her. She bought a six-pack of the newest model menomorphs — complete with random argumentativeness for even greater realism — then she began The Great Work.

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