hertics

Silver Moon Lake Hotel can’t dance

Her name was Ul-verish Ronhardt, but all her friends called her Ish. The diminutive was meant affectionately as a sort of nickname, but she knew the etymology of her last name which meant strong willed, indomitable and was proud of her lineage, her line running right back to the Age of Courts. And so she preferred to be called Primadonna Ronhardt, as was proper, even by her elders and betters. They, themselves scoffed at the notion. These pure-types with heraldry and so-called good genes were a dime a dozen really, just more fodder for the mill. The political will of the people was what mattered; power resides where will is actionable, and it derives, bottom up from the People. Where will is actionable, power must be harnessed, for will is impotent without intent. Right intent, proper action, power wielded justly. Ish did not see eye to eye with this dogma. What she thought was, in her own private thoughts, actually heresy, but she was far too cunning and politically astute in her own right to be a Heretic. Hertics weren’t all bad, some of them were fun to be around, but most of them were boring, reactionary dramatic types with their own specific dogma, just of the Heretical variety.

There were seven factions of Hertics: those who wanted to do away with the womb altogether through 'evolution' enforced through code, those who wanted to bring back the male of the species, those who wanted neither of these (but were in some cases reactionary even towards these other Hertics) who thought, instead, the lines had become impure, those who agreed that the lines were 'wrong' or incorrect (they wouldn’t use the term 'impure' though) and felt (quite the opposite of those who felt the lines had become 'impure’) that they needed new sources (as opposed to those pureblood purists who instead wanted to refine the line, get rid of what they viewed as abhoration- their term for an abhorrent aberration).

Those who felt the new sources should come from the same source that previous generations had used to refresh the lines, those who felt that that, in itself (using those outside sources to refresh the Code which previous councils had used), was the problem and that they were doubling down on a mistake to begin with and they had the resources in themselves to refresh it (this faction itself was broken down into those who agreed with bringing back the male of the species and those who wanted to move forward tweaking, not to entirely get rid of the womb, but rather, instead to find alternate hidden lines in recessive traits or junk) and finally the real Heretical Hertics who’d, you know, gone of the rails, founded an egg-based religion and were waiting for the Martians to save them.

Ish was none of them. But, she also recognized that they played an important, if at times fractious role in the Congress and the Council and that while she wouldn’t go quite so far as to add that they had important voices which needed to be taken into account and occasionally heeded (unless of course, she felt one of them was listening in, to her conversations or her thoughts) she did none the less realize that while she didn’t agree things were broken and needed a drastic fix, things could still be better, both for her personally and for the People as a whole. She secretly harbored ambition, the worst trait a Scout of her age could have. Almost as bad as desire, at least of the non-sexual kind. That could lead to like, intellect. Individuality. Selfishness. Things she not only did not like, in herself or others but actively repulsed her, gave her shivers. But. But she felt as long as her, she wouldn’t call it personal desires or personal ambition, but as long as she saw her personal path (and even here she felt, in thinking these thoughts, she was treading on some sacred boundary to the taboo, which both delighted and disgusted her at the same time) being aligned with the benefit of the People, then she was in harmony and at peace, mostly. Most of the time. It just got under her skin, bothered her intensely, far more than she’d ever let on, emotively, certainly not through conscious action or vocal patterns, that some of the Elders outright showed scorn, derision, almost hostility, outright scoffing at her, mostly just for being herself.

But one learns to deal, to adjust. She certainly wasn’t going to be thrust into one of those Hertic sects just to prove a point, one that would, in most cases, negate or at the very least conflict with the point she was trying to make. What point was she trying to make, she’d ask herself quite often. But in the end it didn’t really matter, she just had her quirks and peculiarities. So she wanted to be referred to as Primadonna Ronhardt, was that really such a big deal? Such a big concession for them to make? She didn’t think so. The thing that bothered her the most was when one of the Mother Superiors would address her as Primadonna Ronhardt, in front of an audience, as if to say, well, OK, this is what you wanted right, and say it with such a mocking derisive tone of voice that it made her near-pure blood boil with overflowing rage. Here, her mouth assumed not a scowl, her eyes didn’t flare, it was milder than a case of resting bitch face, just a slight smile, not even a smirk, her eyelids closing just enough as if she were a Godzilla monster shooting laser beams out of her pupils. But then, if anyone looked directly at her, she’d stare away quickly, like a submissive dog, if called for attention they’d just glaze over like Dunkin Donuts frosting, clear and placid and blank. Maybe occasionally darting to each side as if to say, who lil ol' me what did I do? Big ol' puppy dog blinks.

She hated them all! With a passion she couldn’t show! Maybe someday, maybe someday she thought to herself. Her best friends were in her pod, all mates on the same squad. But each had chosen different directions. Or thought they’d chosen, really it had been chosen for them, long before they were cloned. By some previous Council listening to orders from some even more ancient Supreme Council stretching back like a game of Telephone back to the Age of Courts. They were all the same but she was different. Well, slightly different. She was the 'mother' of the pod, though since she’d been frozen longer she was in fact in years, younger, her lineage was slightly more pure. She lorded it over them and took out all that vengeance she couldn’t take out on the Superiors on them, instead. Oh the Egg! The Great Egg! Someday if you’re lucky enough, you’ll be chosen! And harvested! Ugh, no thank you. She’d be happy if they’d just call her Primadonna, recognize her lineage and listen to reason. If they could hear themselves, she sneered to herself, they sound just like Hertics. The Egg! The Egg!

Her thoughts were interrupted, time for lunch! She put down her study books, absorbing information and data on the Third Great Awakening and the two Heretical Paths (which were not really related to the current Hertics which were all more like political factions or religious cults or sects or a combination) which were about historical influences on the Code. Funday, Chicken McNuggets, again! Mars, Venus, Thor, Weddings, Saturnalia, Free, Funday all over again. She didn’t understand why they couldn’t use the table penis-squirters, in her room, in her bed, for sexAction, they totally worked fine. It was... frowned upon. Even by her mates. She knew they all enjoyed the sexAction as much as she did, she’d walked in on them enough times in enough awkward situations with various approved sex toys, dildos, vibrators, cy-brators to know that for sure. The squirters themselves, if they’d studied their Arcane Knowledge and Useless Information as closely as she did, were developed and evolved from a medical version of cy-toys! It was this kind of rigid, strict dogmatic thinking she abhorred worst of all. And the hypocrisy! Mother Superiors accusing the Council, the Council accusing the Congress, the Congress accusing the Hertics, the Hertics accusing themselves, all hypocrites! All worshipping separate dogmas, but dogmas none the less. Couldn’t they see? It was all so simple! Why couldn’t they see!

So, it was with a certain trepidation she approached Funday and lunch and the monitors and the McNuggets. The penis-squirters were always on the lunch and dinner tables, but not always filled and not always with the best sauces, most of the time the lunch monitors and Superiors looked the other way, but on Funday, once in a blue moon, if someone actually complained they’d do a count, then search the pods. It wasn’t like she had it locked away, just under her mattress. And it wasn’t some horrific thought crime, at least it hadn’t been designated as such yet. But she just didn’t feel like another run in with the law. One more and she might snap. Then, while it in itself wasn’t a thought crime, she damn well knew some of her ideas were near Hertic in their own right, she’d just snap. She wasn’t afraid of giving something away, thinking the wrong thought, but she just knew she might not be able to keep up the act, keep her cool, something would get her and she’d slip. But she also figured that was eventual, anyway, so she’d shrug and forget about it. Blame it on someone else! Always the best pose! Most of the time, at least. Guilt was a motherfucker! But fuck it, what comes around goes around and they prolly deserved it, she’d rationalize it to herself. The times it had happened in the past, the times it would still probably happen in the future. It took on a sort of bell shaped curve, a good deal of the time, it did turn out in fact the Scout she’d randomly chosen was hiding some secretive thought in some lone corner of her lonely clone mind, from the hive collective. So, in a sense, she was actually doing what was right, by the hive. That was how she justified the whole scheme of stealing a lunch table penis-squirter meant for spreading juicy goodness sauce in various flavors onto the delectable golden fried Chicken McNuggets to use for her own personal gratification in the sexAction in the privacy of her own pod room. Really, it was helping out the hive. From a certain perspective.

Silver Moon Lake Hotel was a goddess. That’s what everyone kept telling her. You’re a goddess. You’re a goddess. From the time she was a wee squaw, spanked brand spanking new fresh, the rents, Old Owl Inn and Silver Forkchain Necklace choosing her name in the old fashion, it was all she was hearing all the day long. What a goddess you are Silver Moon Lake Hotel. Sometimes it was more like, whoa-ho girly, damn, what a goddess you’re gonna be when you grow up. Which was different, a lil icky, often from uncles and the sort of randomly collected individuals who ran with her tribe or were collected like dolls, some married in, some tempMarried in, others just running with the pack. Now that she’d had her Moon Ceremony and turned 13 and was eligible for either a sports scholarship, a license, or marriage (but not all three, at least, not anyone she knew could handle all that shit) and her rack was bustin' loose as the boys would say, nothing like Aunt Jenny, whoa! there were a pair of door knockers, she was half considering entering the Priesthood and learning to dance. It was ages, she’d been told since they had a proper stripper in the family, back in Old Vegas there were tales, sometimes at the Gathering of Nations they’d still tell them, of the famous Sistas in her line, big ass bucket girls who could make it rain like a Rainmaker. But she didn’t really aspire that high. She’d be happy settlin' down with a bro or cousin or uncle, but some them children get real ugly, she tried to tell herself all babies beautiful, which she really really believed. Then gain, drivin' truck would be hella cool. But that took a lot of patience and practice, some schooling too. A sports scholarship would be best, she could maybe get some schoolin' in on the side, maybe do some hoin’, maybe some sluttin’, maybe even some strippin’, least she could certainly take dance, even major in maybe Navajo or Six Tribes. She was both, along with some Tuath, a bit of Yoruba, who the hell knows what else, maybe 51 maybe Mormon even. People said her eyes looked funny. Looked fine to her. I’m a motherfucking goddess, she’d remind herself. Sometimes, no matter how many times she’d been told, though, it wasn’t enough. And now that she seemed to be veering away from the promise of the Priesthood, becoming a Rainmaker, maybe moving to Old Vegas after one of the Gathering of Nations, the rents couldn’t look forward to the government checks, harder and harder to come by. They’d try and get excited and feign interest if she showed interest in one of the local boys, a thief, a gatherer, maybe a booster or trader, she figured a hunter was probably out of her league, for now, so she tended not to fuck them.

The worst would be to end up getting fucked and preggers without a ceremony by some no good, inbred, drunk local boy, then no school, no band or dj, no Vegas, no checks in the mail. Just like her mom. Silver Forkchain Necklace never let her forget it either. She’d look at them on the front porch swing, hugging each other, though, under a new moon with a billion stars, and think, they did alright. Alright by me at least. But then the very thought of some or another pussy-grabbing local thug on the Reservation doing the same things over and over would run through her mind and she’d envision herself driving a big rig coast to coast, all through the night and fall fast asleep dreaming of forever and beyond.

Silver Moon Lake Hotel and Ul-verish Ronhardt had yet to meet, didn’t even know of each other’s existence, couldn’t contemplate even the very existence of the other in any possible variation on the context of their then present circumstances, in what possible world could the other exist, it was beyond reason to either. And yet, there they were, side by side, living parallel existences, unbeknownst to one and other but inexorably drawn towards a common end by the most primitive instinct of all, survival. Silver Moon Lake Hotel probably would have said something like, motherfucking ghost girl, you ain’t real, what tribe you from? Why ain’t I never seen you at the Gathering of Nations? What kind o' tribe is Hertics anyways?

And Ish might have responded something like, first off, you don’t know me, or my pod, don’t act like you think you do, you can refer to me as Scout Clone 4893u52 or by my proper designation Ul-verish Ronhardt but don’t ever think of calling me Ish like my squad, you, you abhorrent creature not of the line, unaware of the one true Code, living in the untamed outback wild like, like some animal should never entertain that though, trust.

Hold up Sista Whitegirl Ignorant, don’t talk to me like I’m an animal, I mean unless you mean the Great Bear Mother Sabrina, in which case, I mean, OK, I’d be sort of flattered actually, but, nah, I’m a straight-up goddess girl homie, might be a Rainmaker stripper someday, or you know, like who knows, maybe not, but don’t come up in here in my Nation and talk 'bout the One True Code and The People, shit, you ain’t gotta motherfucking patent on The People, do you? Do you? No, for real, do you?

Well, that’s just... just ridiculous! What’s a 'patent' and who is this Rainmaker? I’m confused. And right Ish would be, it would be ridiculous to think after almost a thousand years that these two cultures, existing side by side in America, post-apocalyptic, steampunked, post-global warming would suddenly find a common tongue, would even become aware of the other culture’s very existence. And yet fate had other plans in mind for the two girls.

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