Draft80

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CHAPTER 80

From antiquity Keter knew Chokhmah contemplated teaching humans to cross the awesome gulf between the stars and do what Chokhmah himself was bound never to do, make two-way contact with Ein Sof. To forestall this Keter forced upon Chokhmah a number of further accomodations.

These bargains compelled Chokhmah to turn the inner Solar System into a vast prison, and even to build what was essentially a guard tower at Jupiter. Keter selected a moon that remained undetected by humans un- til they sent their first Jupiter probes in the 20th Century. This moon, which humans would name Thebe when they spotted it, resembled nothing so much as a giant potato with a crater so large it looked like someone with a thirty mile wide mouth took a big bite out of it. The name Keter chose for it, Palato, even sounded potatoish.

The moon was a loose pile of ice and rock with a coating of red dust. It was left to Chokhmah to burn tunnels through it. This, he ex- plained, required the steam generated in the tunnels to vent to open space. The work took many centuries and to Chokhmah it began to feel like a home remodel that was never quite finished.

When Keter was happy with the extent of the tunnel network Chokhmah left it for Keter to send his own people to seal the tunnels before air could be brought in. The work required pressure suits and power tools, which in turn required the bare bones of an industrial society. That did not yet exist in Heaven, so for centuries construction at Palato ground to a complete stop.

Compared to the fits and starts of human civilization on Earth, Ket- er's colony of world dwellers in Heaven moved forward at a more state- ly and leisurely pace, like courtiers on promenade. And Heaven never experienced the massive setbacks of Earth-style dark ages. The bottom line was that the inhabitants of Heaven harnessed coal and steam about five hundred years before the inhabitants of the Earth did.

It began in Haaretz, perhaps influenced by traces left behind, unin- tentionally, by latter-day B'nei Elohim during their many visits to the Heaven of the past. The new techno culture spread rapidly to the other lands of Heaven. At first it was strongly resisted by Keter and Daat, but the military implications finally sold them. Scarcely a dec- ade after the techno revolution took root in Haaretz all of Heaven was industrialized.

The so-called Techno War broke out within the following decade, abruptly ending centuries of the Long Peace. Armies rapidly mobilized and moved to the front lines by rail as self-propelled steamships con- tended for advantage on the various rivers and lakes of Heaven. Mass production using standardized parts equipped both sides with vast quantities of war materiel, but by circumstance the earliest advances in industrialized warfare tended to favor the defense over offense. This soon brought all troop movement to a near standstill.

As the Techno War dragged on the introduction of poisonous gas and projectile weapons with a high rate of fire made the battle lines in- tolerable. Analog computers were developed to guide the direction of artillery. The telephone brought more effective command and control. But the art of rocketry was forbidden by Keter, strictly enforced by destroying launch facilities with stellar fire from his own body. He would not have the inhabitants of Heaven flinging themselves into the void as Chokhmah desired the inhabitants of Earth to do.

Another line of inquiry that was stifled by Keter was wireless commu- nications. Keter knew it was inevitable that the Earth would one day become as noisy as a star in the radio band, alerting the aggregate of Elohim to mankind's existence, but he didn't want to rush things.

Ultimately the great Techno War sputtered to a halt, twenty years af- ter it began, when Heaven could no longer provide sufficient soldiery as fodder to be crushed into oblivion by the war machines of either side. The war itself became a deterrent against any future conflict. Further advances in science slowed to a crawl. There was little by way of civilian applications driving new technology in Heaven. By design of Keter they never experienced a golden age of radio and television, nor did they ever construct a global computer network.

But in the aftermath of the war Keter realized it had become possible to restart the construction at Palato. He also realized that Palato offered an elegant solution to the ancient problem of apostasy. In a theocracy any violation of civil law is also a sin against God. Keter sent the worst of his apostates to Palato to prepare it for use. But at first the work was slow. Conditions were so miserable and dangerous the inmates preferred quick suicide to a slow death in a prison where they were told in no uncertain terms there was no return.

When Chokhmah heard of this he suggested breaking the workforce into several groups, and dangling the promise of parole for those individu- als who led their own work party to become the most productive one. Keter took this advice, and let matters take their natural course. Soon afterwards the tunnels were sealed and Chokhmah supplied them with air and other supplies. Eventually Keter realized the whole point of his glorified guard shack at Palato was to chase down and destroy escape attempts from the inner system, so he began to allow rocket science to flourish.

Keter dimly realized he was racing against an invisible clock. Except for one time when Chokhmah revealed that humans had seen the four largest moons of Jupiter and had even named them, he refused to offer Keter or Daat any information on the state of technology on Earth.

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