TC-Palato

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NCA: 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.

NCB: 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 until they sent their first Jupiter probes in the 20th Century.

NCC: 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.

NCD: 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, in payment for every "agent" he brought from Earth to Heaven. This, he explained, required the steam generated in the tunnels to vent to open space.

NCE: 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.

NCF: 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. During that time Chokhmah brought no B'nei Elohim to Heaven.

NCG: Compared to the fits and starts of human civilization on Earth, Keter's colony of world dwellers in Heaven moved forward at a more stately and leisurely pace, like courtiers on promenade. And Heaven never experienced the massive setbacks of Earth-style dark ages.

NCH: 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, unintentionally, by the B'nei Elohim during their many visits.

NCI: 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 decade after the techno revolution took root in Haaretz all of Heaven was industrialized.

NCJ: 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 contended for advantage on the various rivers and lakes of Heaven.

NCK: 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.

NCL: As the Techno War dragged on the introduction of poisonous gas and projectile weapons with a high rate of fire made the battle lines intolerable. Analog computers were developed to guide the direction of artillery. The telephone brought more effective command and control.

NCM: 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.

NCN: Another line of inquiry that was stifled by Keter was wireless communications. 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.

NCO: Ultimately the great Techno War sputtered to a halt, twenty years after 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.

NCP: 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.

NCQ: 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.

NCR: 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.

NCS: When Chokhmah heard of this he suggested breaking the workforce into several groups, and dangling the promise of parole for those individuals who led their own work party to become the most productive one. Keter took this advice, and let matters take their natural course.

NCT: 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 allowed rocket science.

NCU: 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.

NCV: With the transfers between Heaven and Palato no more frequent than biweekly, even Keter understood that he would never be able to staff Palato quickly enough to get the base fully operational before humans attained the scientific knowledge they needed to leave the Earth.

NCW: When Keter lamented this Chokhmah mentioned, quite casually, that the world-dwellers transplated to Heaven were living beingss fully capable of reproduction. But later, after mixing sexes in a prison environment, Keter lamented that the experiment was an unmitigated disaster.

NCX: Chokhmah reminded Keter once more that even the humans of Earth had observed there was more than one moon orbiting Jupiter, and that the planet was a kind of "failed star" with a miniature solar system all of its own. And that made Keter's next move entirely obvious.

NCY: Keter wasn't sure why Chokhmah was so full of helpful advice recently but he rolled the dice and allowed one couple to leave Palato in a small ship. They were dead before the day was out. Just beyond Palato is the inner edge of a permanent magnetic storm that rings Jupiter.

NCZ: Electrons spiral around the planet, accelerating to a fair fraction of the speed of light. The metal exterior of the ship shielded the couple from this direct beta radiation, but when the electrons slammed into the hull all that kinetic energy had to go somewhere.

NDA: That energy emerged as x-rays continuously bathing the interior of the ship. It was a silent and invisible death, and no one at Palato understood what happened to the crew until the ship was remotely piloted back to the departure point and doctors could examine the bodies.

NDB: After that, active shielding was used. These devices built a magnetic field around the ship in imitation of the belt around Jupiter, but they required power, as high temperature superconductors were yet many decades in the future. Spacesuits used electrostatic shields.

NDC: These shields blocked electrons but not other particles, and they operated for only a few hours. Later, as the ships built at Palato became larger, passive shielding was used in the form of liquid water propellant stored within the outer layers of a spinning metal sphere.

NDD: In these ships the crew lived and worked in a central core. As the water was expended in transfer burns, the liquid oxygen used to supply air to breathe was allowed to expand as a gas to fill the void vacated by the water and press the rest of the water "down" (or out).

NDE: Since the water used for propellant had to be heated to remain liquid, this offered recreational opportunities for the crew, provided they did not dive too deeply and defeat the purpose of the shielding. Certainly it made the ship seem larger, which was good for morale.

NDF: The earliest colonists made a mad dash through Jupiter's radiation belt to the most distant of the big moons, Callisto, which was fairly safe with "only" ten times the flux of ambient radiation found on the surface of Heaven. Seismic studies revealed an underground ocean.

NDG: But the liquid water under the surface of Callisto was too deep to reach. The surface ice had to be melted using nuclear reactors from the transport ships to provide water to drink and (with electrolysis) air to breathe. But plants could live in greenhouses on the surface.

NDH: To be sure, the dim light of the faraway sun had to be multiplied with strategically-placed mirrors, but this worked well, and Callisto soon became the breadbasket of the entire Jovian system. The workforce at Palato rapidly expanded to match the new supply of food.

NDI: Looking closer to Jupiter, the next large moon is Ganymede, which is, in fact, the largest moon in the system, even larger than the planet Mercury. But it lay within the outer reaches of Jupiter's radiation zone. Colonists were forced to live aboard their ships.

NDJ: Fortunately, the sub-Ganymedan ocean of water could be reached by digging deep wells and used to replenish the shipboard tanks that doubled as radiation shields. From their vessels they ventured out to mine what metal ores could be had nearby, which could be traded for food.

NDK: Periodically the colonists returned to Palato to off-load their cargo, then ventured to Ganymede again to land in a different place. Over time, they learned which areas of the moon were rich in ore and they tended to cluster there, but the overall population remained small.

NDL: The moon Europa lay deeper still within the radiation belt. Nothing could live on its surface for more than a day or two. But the layer of ice coating the interior ocean was so thin that sometimes it would crack open and seawater would ooze out like blood from a wound.

NDM: This water quickly froze to form long criss-crossing ridges of ice. Europa's underground ocean was actually quite warm, heated by tidal motion. The colonists could leave their ships and burrow a few meters down into the ice, letting it protect them from the radiation.

NDN: The difference between the bathwater-warm subsurface ocean and the near-cryogenic cold of the surface set up a thermal gradient that could be tapped to provide an endless source of electrical power. The colonists didn't need to rely on their ship's reactors to stay alive.

NDO: Europa was close enough to Palato that for the required velocity change, ships powered by chemical rockets alone could reach there and land. As a result, Europa naturally became the Jovian moon with the largest population, essentially a huge water and people farm.

NDP: But Io, the nearest Galilean moon to Jupiter, was a complete bust. There was not a drop of water there, and it was at the very epicenter of the radiation belt. Indeed, Io acted like a kind of rotor stirring up the field to a much greater intensity than would exist otherwise.

NDQ: Pressure suits with their partial active shielding could not deflect enough of the radioactive maelstrom to keep the wearer safe outside of their ship for more than an hour. Not even automated equipment could function for very long before ionization caused them to fail.

NDR: On top of all that, Io was constantly about the business of literally turning itself inside-out, with volcanoes covering the whole surface of the moon with a meter of fresh brimstone every 10,000 years. Throw in the brutal quakes, and the colonists gave Io a complete miss.

NDS: About two centuries after they were founded Heaven's colonies on the Jovian moons advanced from being a state-subsidized bridgehead through a level of bare subsistence until something of a self-sustaining economy wobbled to its feet and stood up. Then came the Great Revolt.

NDT: There remains some debate over the root cause of the insurrection. Many lay all the blame at the feet of a true apostasy that took hold among the Jovian colonists, not merely that simple criminal behavior conveniently labeled and punished as apostasy by the Eyes of Keter.

NDU: Certainly when the colonists found they were no longer under the constant gaze of Keter's priests the hated Cupel testing system of the state religion was the first thing to be cast aside, with its institutionalized incest, polygamy, and glorification of violence.

NDV: Others said the revolt could be attributed to three things: location, location, and location. Even Keter could only reach Palato with the willing cooperation of the two elohim who absolutely ruled this ancestral home star system of all world-dwellers, Chokhmah and Binah.

NDW: Or perhaps the humans who were transplanted to Heaven, and the angels and nephilim many of their descendants later became, were so engrained with a reverence for the elohim they instinctively shifted their loyalty to Chokhmah and Binah once they were returned home.

NDX: There were stories among the rebels of discovering unexplained caches of food just when they needed it. Fresh fruit when vitamin deficiencies were rampant aboard their ship. Rolls of bread so fresh it tasted like it had just been baked, impossible as that must have seemed.

NDY: But no rebellion could have been successful so long as Palato remained the only source of new ships and the sole depot to overhaul existing ships. It did not escape notice that the Great Revolt happened only after the colonists at Callisto started building their own ships.

NDZ: Beginning at roughly three times the distance of Callisto from Jupiter is a swarm of at least one hundred much smaller moons, ranging in size from 90 miles across down to less than a single mile in diameter. Some were just debris left over from the formation of Jupiter.

NEA: Other moons were asteroids captured from the main belt, or even the cores of comets grabbed in passing by the enormous gravity of Jupiter. These tiny satellites varied widely in composition from simple monoliths, to loose piles of gravel, to balls of water and ammonia ice.

NEB: The orbits of the moons varied as greatly as their makeup, with many of them spinning around Jupiter in a retrograde direction like cars going the wrong way on a freeway. The first colonists to escape from the Eyes of Keter called this swarm of satellites the Eggbeater.

NEC: Keter's colony, set up to watch the inner system as though it were a vast prison camp, now bore watching itself. It was as though some of the guards climbed down from their tower to join the inmates in general population. "You knew it would happen," Keter accused Chokhmah.

NED: Chokhmah replied, "How could I know 'it' would happen, father, if I do not even know what event you are--"

"The moons of the fifth planet! In the very beginning you seemed so helpful. But all along you knew my colony in your outer system would escape from my control."

NEE: "Father, unless you have grown stupid to the point of becoming totally blind, millennia of conflict in Heaven must have shown you that world-dwellers possess an indomitable spirit. The only thing that would surprise me is if you truly never did anticipate a revolt.

NEF: You must have discerned by now that humans, nephilim, and angels alike will endure any oppression and absolutely will not cease to struggle until they are free. That is why, ultimately, you and Daat cannot prevail. I am humbled to have them as my students. And I pity you."

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