The Book of the War
edited by Lawrence Miles
mad norwegian press
The Book of the War

The Great Houses
Immovable. Implacable. Unchanging. Old enough to pass themselves off as immortal, arrogant enough to claim ultimate authority over the Spiral Politic.

The Enemy
Not so much an army as a hostile new kind of history. So ambitious it can re-write worlds, so complex that even calling it by its name seems to underestimate it.

Faction Paradox
Renegades, ritualists, saboteurs and subterfugers, the criminal-cult to end all criminal-cults, happy to be caught in the crossfire and ready to take whatever’s needed from the wreckage... assuming the other powers leave behind a universe that’s habitable.

The War
A fifty-year-old dispute over the two most valuable territories in existence: “cause” and effect.

Marking the first five decades of the conflict, THE BOOK OF THE WAR is an A to Z of a self-contained continuum and a complete guide to the Spiral Politic, from the beginning of recordable time to the fall of humanity. Part story, part history and part puzzle-box, this is a chronicle of protocol and paranoia in a War where the historians win as many battles as the soldiers and the greatest victory of all is to hold on to your own past...

  • Edited by Miles and featuring contributions by a number of established Doctor Who authors, Faction Paradox: The Book of the War is far more than a collection of short fiction; rather, it presents itself as an A-Z encyclopaedia of a universe under fire. It has been written as a companion to BBV’s “The Faction Paradox Protocols” audio adventures, but tailored for readers who haven’t listened to the audios first.
  • It features characters originally created by Lawrence Miles for the BBC Doctor Who novel series and focuses on the first 50 years of the “War in Heaven,” the universe-rending conflict (first seen in Miles’ Alien Bodies) in which Faction Paradox and all its rival Houses are irrevocably involved. It also covers the rise and fall of the Faction, the lost history of the Compassion project, the secret origins of the Celestis and perhaps even the nature of the Enemy itself!
  • The Book of the War was written by Lawrence Miles, Simon Bucher-Jones, Daniel O’Mahony, Ian McIntire, Mags L Halliday, Helen Fayle, Phil Purser-Hallard, Kelly Hale, Jonathan Dennis, and Mark Clapham, but not necessarily in that order.
  • Released: September 2002

  • ISBN: 1 57032 905 2 (Paperback); 1 57032 907 9 (Hardcover)

The Book of the War is a comprehensive encyclopaedia covering the first 50 years of the War between the Great Houses, who literally created history within the Spiral Politic, and an enemy whose identity is not as important as what they do and why.

Ten million years before the outbreak of War, the Great Houses created the history of the galaxy by rooting their biology directly into the most fundamental levels of the time continuum. As a side-effect of this process, they inadvertently released the horrific Yssgaroth into the Universe, creating an empty space called the Caldera at the heart of the Homeworld. The Yssgaroth were defeated after a long and bloody battle, and the Caldera is now the centre of history; anything that occurs in the Caldera has the potential to rewrite all of history from the beginning.

The Homeworld remained static for ten million years, its inhabitants observing the course of history but rarely participating in it. This changed when House Dvora somehow produced a despotic God-Emperor, the Imperator President, who attempted to conquer the outer galaxy. The Great Houses managed to capture and execute him, but the incident had made the rest of the Spiral Politic aware of the Great Houses’ existence. The same generation also produced a figure who decided to found a new House based on the principles of paradox. This was seen as an affront to the Great Houses, whose biology was firmly rooted in the structures of Time. The new House’s founder took on the name Grandfather Paradox, and wore ceremonial armour made of bone as another affront to the Houses; not only did it remind them of their biological origins, but it seemed to have been made from the bodies of Homeworld agents from an alternative history in which they’d lost the battle with the Yssgaroth.

Following the Imperator Presidency, the concerned Houses decided to take action against House Paradox before it became an equal threat, and thus sentenced Grandfather Paradox to perpetual imprisonment on an isolated prison world. He escaped due to a temporal disruption in the outer worlds, however, and cut off his own arm to rid himself of the biodata tattoo that had linked him to the prison planet’s security systems. House Paradox, no longer recognised as a House by the Homeworld, became known as Faction Paradox, and the Grandfather chose to excise himself from history altogether. For the past 200 years, he has no longer ever existed in the first place.

Faction Paradox is now based in an ulterior world known as the Eleven-Day Empire. Before the Grandfather’s arrest, members of House Paradox visited 18th-century Earth, the era in which humanity was first becoming aware of Time as a dimension through which movement was possible, and struck a deal with the King of England. House Paradox symbolically purchased from Great Britain the eleven days cut out of the calendar when the country switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in September 1752, and Faction Paradox now makes its home in these eleven days, in a shadow version of London. The Shadow Parliament is located in the equivalent of Westminster, while the equivalent of Tower Hill is the home of the Unkindnesses, creatures that feed on flesh and predict the future. As a side-effect, the Faction’s deal with Britain means that, due to the Protocols of Linearity, the next 70 years of Earth’s history are tied to the following 70 years of Homeworld history, making it difficult, if not impossible, for agents of the Homeworld to visit and interfere in this era.

Unlike the Great Houses, Faction Paradox recruits new members from the lesser species, including humanity. Their agents are often armed with sombras que corta, shadow weapons that have been erased from history and thus have no gross physical presence. It is said that the knife that the Grandfather used to cut off his own arm is kept in Faction’s archives, located in the Underground tunnels beneath the Empire. The Empire itself is protected from attack by spirits of Time known as the loa, though the Great Houses believe that references to spirits are merely a superstitious interpretation of the perfectly ordinary time-space protocols that delineate the Empire’s borders.

When Faction Paradox made contact with Great Britain in 1752, the organisation known as the Star Chamber misinterpreted their appearance entirely. Though the Yssgaroth themselves had been driven out of the Spiral Politic at the dawn of history, their taint remained; on Earth, those tainted by the Yssgaroth influence were known as Mal’akh, and fed on human blood. Those who fed off humans took the form of unnaturally beautiful, almost angelic creatures; those who were driven to feed off each other degenerated into grotesque, ape-like creatures. In Western Europe, an order known as the Society of St. George, or the Order of the Garter, was established to fight these beings, but the Order eventually became a front for the Grand Families, the secret powers behind the European thrones. The Star Chamber -- officially the court of highest authority in Great Britain -- was used to prosecute crimes involving the Yssgaroth and punish traitors within the Society of St. George.

Since Faction Paradox’s armour appeared to be made out of the bones of Yssgaroth-tainted Homeworld agents, the Star Chamber concluded that they and the Mal’akh were related, and set about planning to destroy them. To this end, the composer J.S. Bach half-composed, half-calculated a musical canon in which the mathematical relationship between the musical notes could open up a doorway to the Eleven-Day Empire. In order to decode this Musical Offering, the Star Chamber funded Charles Babbage’s prototype analytical engine, and moved it into the cellars of Parliament in preparation for the “Clockwork Ouroboros” operation. But the Star Chamber had already been betrayed before the attack could even begin...

George Gordon, Lord Byron, had served the Society of St. George until September 1809, at which time they used him as bait to lure a party of Mal’akh out into the open in Malta while their real attack was launched elsewhere. When Byron learned that he’d been used as a distraction, he became disillusioned with the Society, at which point he was approached by agents of Faction Paradox. Seeking to control Byron, the Star Chamber arranged for him to marry Annabella Milbanke, the “Princess of Parallelograms,” but the marriage did not last long; soon, Byron went into exile, while Milbanke raised their daughter, mathematical prodigy Ada Byron. Lord Byron and his friends, the Shelley Cabal, tried to alert the outside world to the threat of the Mal’akh through their poetry and other writings, but eventually the Mal’akh responded, killing off most of the Shelley Cabal one by one in a series of suspicious “accidents.” Byron apparently died fighting the Turks at Missolonghi -- but in fact, he’d defected to the Eleven-Day Empire.

The Star Chamber eventually enlisted Ada Byron’s mathematical talents to program the Musical Offering into the Analytical Engine, but her father secretly contacted her while she was working on the problem. Though raised to direct her talents towards the mathematical and mechanical rather than the poetic and allegorical, she nevertheless betrayed the Star Chamber and told her estranged father all about their plans to attack the Eleven-Day Empire. When the attack began, in October 1834, the Faction was thus prepared for the intrusion and successfully fought off the Servicemen trying to pass from the real Westminster into the Shadow Parliament. The result was a fire which destroyed the Houses of Parliament and broke the rule of the Star Chamber, leaving it a shadow of its former self.

It is believed that the Great Houses had some influence over the Star Chamber’s assault on the Eleven-Day Empire, and that they subsequently used “ghost clusters” to erase all evidence of their interference. (Ghost clusters are virtual bombs that are detonated in a model of the Universe; as the probably of their actual detonation is increased, the bombs’ victims -- and their descendants -- become increasingly less likely to have existed. These people are known as the walking dead.) Most hard evidence of the Star Chamber’s exploits was destroyed in the Grindlay’s Warehouse fire of 1861, which is believed to have been caused by the Mal’akh. It may be worth noting that the Star Chamber’s power was broken because they attacked the wrong enemy -- and that their final stand in 1940-45 is apparently documented in a missing folio known as the Churchill Index, which is cross-referenced under the Book’s entry for the Enemy.

Richard Burton also used to work for the Star Chamber before defecting to Faction Paradox under the name of Father Abdullah. As a young man, he became interested in ritual and ceremony, and participated in a summoning which brought a Mal’akh grotesque to Karachi. He and his friend John Hanning Speke also mounted an expedition to the Mountains of the Moon in Central Africa, ostensibly to find the source of the Nile, but in fact a secret mission for the Star Chamber to smoke out a hidden Mal’akh fortress. Speke became unhinged by his experiences and threatened to go public with what he’d seen, and Faction Paradox thus sent Byron to assassinate him before he could do so. Byron made Speke’s death appear to have been a suicide, and Burton has never forgiven him for this. Burton has conducted a great deal of research into the Mal’akh, both for the Star Chamber and for Faction Paradox, but his researches have been sealed by Faction Paradox, implying that Burton may have learned things about the Mal’akh which could compromise the Faction..

The Homeworld is the seat of the Great Houses, and is now more a space-time event than an actual planet. There are many minor bloodlines on the Homeworld; the six major Ruling Houses are Dvora, Tracolix, Lineacrux, Arpexia, Xianthellipse, and Mirraflex. At the top of the hierarchy is the Presidency, which consists of one figurehead President and his entourage. The protocols of the Homeworld are effectively the laws of nature as they were written into the basic structure of the Universe during the “anchoring of the thread,” the creation of history; it’s possible to overturn these protocols, but doing so would change the Homeworld so fundamentally that it might not even exist any more. Nevertheless, the outbreak of War has caused many changes on the Homeworld, including the creation of newblood Houses that embrace diversity rather than conformity.

House Xianthellipse is one of these newblood Houses, and one of its most notorious figures is Robert Scarratt, who has adopted a first name and engaged in intuitive, imaginative and original thinking which has led to several important victories against the enemy. Some of his developments include the adoption of an occasionally ambiguous sexuality amongst the Homeworld agents and even their timeships, although this is generally regarded as vulgar by many Homeworld natives, who do not like to be reminded of their biological origins.

Recently, Scarratt and his followers have been seen in the region of Ordifica, the planet on which Faction Paradox began its Remote project. The House Military’s violent Second Wave wiped Ordifica out of existence so completely that it left a hole in history, and in order to prevent the Yssgaroth from getting through the hole and back into the Spiral Politic, it was covered in a shell of Highest Entropy Matter, matter that requires vast amounts of energy input just for basic particle interaction to begin. HEM is harvested from the end of the Universe by nechronomancers, who are regarded as pariahs within House society for their belief that past and future do not exist in any significant sense.

It is believed that Scarratt’s presence near Ordifica is just a coincidence, and that he’s actually investigating the intercreationals, living beings that exist in the voids between the sub-Universes derived from the same region of de Sitter space. The intercreationals were considered interesting but unimportant cosmological phenomena until an expedition to the frontier of future recorded history found evidence that devices in the region of space known as the Anvil Stars were harvesting the seeds of proto-Universes and sculpting them into potential Leviathans, living creatures that are themselves larger than entire Universes. Nobody knows what Scarratt’s interest is in the intercreationals -- but it’s also possible that Scarratt is visiting the hole that used to be Ordifica because he’s taken an interest in Yssgaroth biology.

Entaradora, one of the House Military’s greatest strategists, has suggested that the enemy must remain nameless because the Homeworld would otherwise underestimate its importance. The House Military must constantly be on the alert for enemy action, but in a time-active War it’s often difficult to distinguish between enemy activity and genuine coincidence. It is also difficult to determine when a battle has been won, since the same battle can often be re-fought repeatedly. The enemy is known to be capable of creating an artificial form of time, known as “zero time,” which in effect adds extra time in which to re-fight a battle yet again. Victory is only possible in the War when one side believes themselves to have been defeated, and the enemy, for one, is also known to plant propaganda directly into its opponents’ perceptions in such a way that they’re not sure whether or not they’ve just been brainwashed: THIS IS NOT AN EXAMPLE. THESE WORDS ARE MEMETICALLY CODED TO CONDITION YOU INTO ACCEPTING THE ENEMY’S BELIEF SYSTEM, AND FROM NOW ON YOU PERSONALLY WILL ACT AGAINST THE INTERESTS OF THE GREAT HOUSES, for example.

The Great Houses have also developed several powerful weapons for use in the War. “Gravity spiders” scattered throughout the Spiral Politic are attuned to notice the change in gravity caused when an enemy timeship materialises; the gravity spiders are attracted to that particular moment in time and space, at which point they assemble into a critical mass and detonate. A truly horrific weapon, the D-Mat gun, actually rewrites all of history to include everything but its target, leaving behind only the concept of its victim, an idea which is aware that it no longer exists. Agents of the House Military are also occasionally made to regenerate into forms more suitable for specific missions, which has led to the formation of the Redemption Cult, a group of soldiers who seem to believe that the War is testing the Homeworld’s right to rule established history.

Many of the new technologies used in the War were created by House Arpexia, which is devoted to scientific study and experimentation. One of their experiments in “temporal vaccination” led to the bizarre incident of Kasper Hauser, a child of the Homeworld who was raised by human beings as one of their own. It was hoped that his biodata would absorb the best characteristics of humanity; this did not occur, but human culture was greatly influenced by his presence as a side-effect of the experiment. It is also known, in the War era, for paradoxical survivors of defunct timelines to appear as if from nowhere in human villages; usually to be treated as witches or prophets, they are known as the “hauserkinder,” although Kasper Hauser was not in fact one of them. For obvious reasons, Faction Paradox takes something of an interest in the hauserkinder.

Before the War, the Homeworld was defended by casts, extensions of the Homeworld’s protocols that were called into existence whenever the Homeworld needed agents to act in the outside universe. An attempt was made, before the outbreak of War, to create semi-sentient casts known as babels, but the babels were incurably insane, and one of the experimental models escaped and slaughtered the inhabitants of House Catherion before it was found and destroyed. The babels’ breeding engine was still kept at House Ixion, however, and when the casts were destroyed in the initial attacks of the War, more babels were sent into the fray, their homicidal tendencies reined in by linking them to the lobotomised minds of former Homeworld renegades. During the Lethean Campaign, however, the renegades were killed -- possibly as a mercy killing committed by another former renegade -- and the momentarily confused babels were destroyed by waves of enemy attacks.

House Ixion is no longer as prominent as it once was. It was once the home of the Order of the Weal, a counter-intelligence organisation created by the Imperator President (and which subsequently exposed him as the tyrant he was). Its most noted leader, Chatelaine Thessalania, was one of the first to suspect that the Homeworld would one day face an enemy whose nature it couldn’t comprehend. Hoping for clues to the nature of the future enemy, she began investigating Violent Unknown Events, space-time events so chaotic that they can affect even observers not immediately caught up in the events themselves. While investigating a VUE on the planet Zo la Domini, Thessalania came into contact with agents of Faction Paradox from the future of the Homeworld, and apparently learned something of the War that was to come. Whatever she learned sent her to a Homeworld timeship permanently stationed on the “frontier in Time” which separates the Homeworld from the unpredictable future worlds of post-humanity; soon afterwards, she sent a message to the Homeworld demanding a spectroscopic analysis of their sun. However, the timeship was destroyed by another Violent Unknown Event, and Thessalania’s warnings were subsequently dismissed. The Order of the Weal’s power has waned ever since.

Since Thessalania’s death was brought about due to her apparently mistaken belief that Faction Paradox was responsible for the VUE on Zo la Domini, it may be worth noting a certain similarity between the downfall of the Order of the Weal and the downfall of the Star Chamber on Earth. Or it might just be a coincidence. In any case, it’s said that the enemy are capable of creating VUEs, but there is no entry for VUEs in the Book.

Some time after Thessalania’s death, a former renegade and notoriously violent criminal returned to the Homeworld to warn the Presidency that he had stumbled across a threat to the Homeworld itself, something so terrible that it had convinced him to mend his ways. The President refused to believe the renegade’s dire warnings, but the renegade later addressed a closed session of the Ruling Houses and managed to convince many of them of the necessity of preparing for War. The Presidency did all it could to subvert these preparations, insisting that there was no such enemy and no need for a War. The renegade was placed under arrest, and the President publicly announced his intention to travel back to the space-time co-ordinates the renegade had given as the home of the enemy and found a Homeworld colony there, thus putting an end to these rumours. The President and his entourage departed on schedule -- but when the time came for them to return, only the President’s severed head materialised back on the Homeworld, several minutes late, and with a piece of paper in its mouth reading “We are not amused.”

Later, analysis of the severed head revealed that somehow the President, or just his head, had apparently been taken back in Time to the birth of the Universe, allowed (or forced) to live throughout the entire lifespan of the Universe to its final collapse, and then returned to the Homeworld -- all without travelling through Time by any conventional means. The ruling Houses therefore freed the renegade, who was appointed War King and immediately set about preparing the Homeworld for the War to come. The acting President at the time of the former President’s death, Umbaste, found himself something of a puppet ruler; eventually, he apparently tired of this role, and for reasons unknown he entered the Caldera and opened up his biodata to the dead centre of History. When he recovered, all he could say was the word “One,” and he apparently committed suicide soon afterwards. The War King is now effectively the leader of the Homeworld, and though he seems genuinely concerned about the threat his people face, some cynics believe that he’s manipulated this entire situation in order to gain power for himself.

The first battle of the War took place on the planet Dronid, which had once been the home of a rival Presidency founded by renegade academics who believed that the Imperator Presidency had proven that the Homeworld was no longer capable of taking care of history. The Great Houses responded to this threat by “ignoring” Dronid, isolating the planet from the rest of the Spiral Politic and thus causing its history to be torn apart by the forces of random probability. The rival Presidency was thus eradicated, but some of their technology remained on the devastated Dronid, which soon developed a strong criminal trade in illegal time technology. The Great Houses planted world-processing devices on Dronid in case the trade led to any serious threats to the timelines, but they failed to fully understand the criminal mindset, and thus didn’t notice when one of the criminal organisations on the planet, with a unique way of doing things, began to grow in influence. Too late, they discovered that it was no longer possible for them to rewrite the history of Dronid -- and realised that the criminal organisation was a front for the enemy they’d been expecting.

The Homeworld planted an agent on Dronid in the mission founded by Faction Paradox, but the enemy proved capable of countering every action taken against it, and the agent eventually “went native”. As it became clear that conflict was inevitable, a notorious Homeworld renegade travelled to Dronid to try to find a diplomatic solution, claiming to have a connection with one of the enemy agents. However, he was apparently betrayed and killed by his friend, and the Homeworld’s agents then bombarded the planet, triggering the first real battle between the Homeworld and their enemy. War having been declared, the Homeworld and enemy forces scattered throughout the rest of the Spiral Politic revealed themselves and attacked one another.

During the first battles of the War, the enemy made a serious attempt to attack the Homeworld directly, but failed due to the preparations the War King had put in place. The Homeworld has since crypto-formed several other planets into copies of itself; these copies are known as the Nine Homeworlds. They are meant either as decoys or as repositories of the Homeworld culture, to ensure that something of it survives even if the Homeworld itself is destroyed. In fact, there’s no real guarantee that the Homeworld referred to by the Book is in fact the original, although it’s assumed that it is.

Shortly after the outbreak of War, one apparently serious attempt was made to open peace negotiations between the Great Houses and the enemy. The so-called Venue Accords took place with a construct the size of a small galaxy, similar to the Great Houses’ timeships, and were arranged through a human agent, which suggests that there may be a connection between the unknown parties behind the Venue Accords and the Secret Architects of the City of the Saved (more on which later). In any case, the negotiations failed, as the Great Houses and their enemy could only agree that War between them was inevitable. Nobody is certain what happened to the construct afterwards.

There have been few actual space battles, since physical territory is largely irrelevant to this War; it’s all about history and ideas. The Anvil Stars, mentioned earlier as a breeding ground for Leviathans, seem to be the result of a battle that was clearly so devastating that neither side is willing to commit the forces to actually fight it. Another notorious battle took place on the planet now known as Utterlost. Every single discrete moment of Time on the planet, including the extra “zero time” added by the enemy, has been used up by both sides with strategies and counter-strategies; as a result, nobody can actually get to the planet any more, and neither side is sure who, if anybody, won. The Utterlost battle also affected two causally-related planets, Kaiwar and Mohandassa. Kaiwar is now in a state of temporal uncertainty and is no longer strategically viable, while Mohandassa is cross-referenced under the Book’s entry for the Enemy but does not actually appear in the Book itself.

There have been several waves of House Military troops. The first wave consisted of traditional Homeworld soldiers, who had spent ten million years at peace and were completely unprepared for the violence of the War. The Second Wave was much more violent -- gratuitously so, as they tended to respond to every perceived threat by completely destroying it. The soldiers of the Third Wave were the first to be bred for change rather than as part of the status quo, and the Fourth and Fifth also embraced genetic diversity and original thinking. There doesn’t seem to have been a Sixth Wave, though a cross-reference to “Sixth Wave Defections” can be found under the entry for the Enemy. As the Homeworld and the enemy became more entrenched in their positions, the Seventh and Eighth Waves became more subtle in their attacks. As the War enters its 50th year, House Tracolix has apparently deployed a Ninth Wave, though they haven’t given any details about its nature.

As stated earlier, it’s important to understand the nature of the enemy, but this has nothing to do with its actual identity. Calling the enemy by its name would underestimate its importance. It originates from the same Universe as the Homeworld and tries to obey the laws of physics, but as the Great Houses can’t understand the principles upon which it operates, it might as well be from outside their “noosphere,” or beyond the limits of their cultural comprehension.

The Homeworld’s timeships are elaborate models of mathematics and history, and they possess a form of intelligence entirely alien to that of their pilots, or indeed any humanoid life form. When the War first began, an attempt was made to create a timeship that could communicate with its pilots on an equal level, but the first experiments were dismal failures. The Homeworld first tried to build an intelligence, rather than nurture one; the resulting creature was entirely insane. The next attempts to create “pet” timeships by cross-breeding timeships with animals resulted in the timeships “eating” the research team and then vanishing into the continuum.

Eventually, through a bizarre series of circumstances which have been related elsewhere, a Remote colonist named Laura Tobin -- later known as “Compassion” -- ended up being transformed into the first humanoid-timeship hybrid. Compassion eventually agreed to participate in the Homeworld’s breeding program, and thus can be considered the mother of all existing 103-type timeships, even though she is no longer directly involved in their creation.

Compassion, considering herself a neutral party in the War, travelled through the Spiral Politic for quite some time, both on her own and with other travelling companions. The most famous of these companions, Carmen Yeh, later wrote a fictionalised account of her travels, including an incident that implies that Compassion eventually did choose sides in the War. Though Yeh herself was not privy to all of the events, it seems that Compassion found the remains of a timeship in the posthuman era, and subsequently kidnapped the War King from the Homeworld, accusing him of killing “Percival”. The War King managed to convince Compassion that Percival was killed by the enemy, and Compassion finally agreed to fight the enemy, albeit on her own terms. However, she still claims that the War is just a sideshow, and that the real threat to the Homeworld lies elsewhere. Yeh stopped travelling with Compassion shortly after these events, and now lives somewhere in the posthuman hegemony.

Much of human history after the 21st-century “ghost point” is irrelevant to the War; however, the destruction of Earth by supernova ushered in the era of posthumanity, in which the scattered descendants of Earth colonists, no longer united by their planet of origin, began to develop outwards in entirely unrelated ways. One of the most significant cities of this era is Siloportem, founded by the Blood Coteries, in which new and creative ways of thinking and governing have been encouraged. The Silversmiths of the era have developed cybernetic shock-troops known as Ashla, and, though research into time travel is forbidden for some reason, many posthuman sects are known to scavenge the artefacts of time-active cultures. This is generally regarded as a nuisance by the Great Houses. More serious is the fact that much of the posthuman era lies beyond the borders of the Homeworld’s noosphere, and a number of incidents imply that both the enemy and Faction Paradox are active in this era.

Another interesting posthuman development is the drug known as praxis. Its origin is unknown, but it’s used by the pilots of the Blood Coteries and is said to contain elements that do not appear on ordinary periodic tables. It is also said to have hallucinogenic effects so profound that they can affect the very nature of the Spiral Politic itself. Even though time travel is forbidden by the founders of Siloportem, praxis seems to have shown up on Earth in the past. Faction Paradox currently possesses an artefact once possessed by the artist Diego Rivera and therefore known as “the Rivera Manuscript.” The Manuscript appears to recount the interrogation of a Homeworld renegade placed in a praxis fugue, and, in addition to a number of sequences set in alternative timelines -- and one set within the Homeworld’s sun -- it includes an alleged account of the enemy’s first attack on the Homeworld. In this sequence, fireballs that the renegade identifies as “charged regions of the causal nexus” crash into the Homeworld, and in the ensuing confusion, creatures similar to Ashla shock-troops arrive and plug themselves into the Homeworld’s breeding machinery, transforming them and putting them to some terrible new use. This is not what actually happened during the enemy’s attack, however, and it’s implied in a subsequent conversation between the renegade and the interrogator -- a figure known only as “One”, who seems to have a terrible hatred for the Great Houses -- that it’s only a possible strategy that has now been discarded.

Since the Homeworld and their enemy both have unlimited resources and territory, there seems to be no good reason for them to be at war. One of the Homeworld’s first attempts to understand the logic of the situation was by using the metaphor of a game, and one of the first Academicians of Game Logic was Devonire. Devonire was one of the most respected negotiators on the Homeworld until an ill-fated attempt to reconcile the Homeworld and Faction Paradox. His studies led him to conclude that, since the Faction had such a great interest in ritual and symbolism, the Grandfather’s arm, which he had cut off in the Act of Severance, must be their most important relic. Thus, he reasoned that if he found it and returned it to them, they would agree to open negotiations with the Homeworld. His quest soon came to obsess him, to the point that, when he learned that the Faction apparently already possessed the arm, he decided to steal it from them just so he could be the one to return it.

Devonire was eventually contacted by the Immaculata Formosii, a figure from the posthuman era who claimed to possess the Grandfather’s arm. Devonire and the Immaculata Formosii met on the planet Kaiwar, the site of one of the Thousand-Year Battles; there, she offered to exchange the Grandfather’s arm for Devonire’s own. What happened next is unclear. It seems as though the shadows in the room began to move, as if the sun were changing position; however, even though these records are taken directly from Devonire’s memories, it seems as though some information regarding Formosii’s “new allies” is no longer there. In any case, Devonire managed to grab the Grandfather’s arm and flee, while Formosii was enveloped by the shadows. (The Immaculata Formosii is cross-referenced under the entry for the Enemy, but no entry for Formosii herself appears in the Book.)

Devonire subsequently presented the arm to Faction Paradox, and was stunned when they rejected it. When the arm was analysed, it was revealed to be Devonire’s own, with a criminal identification tattoo that had been bonded to it after it had been severed. Devonire suffered a complete mental breakdown, a condition known as “paradox anxiety,” and he cut off and disposed of his own arm, claiming that he was Grandfather Paradox and that the Faction had paradoxically created its own creator. He has been placed in temporal stasis, partly to prevent the rest of his bloodline from being infected by his insanity, but also partly in case he’s right.

The lesser species often misunderstand the nature of the weapons used in the War, as they expect the weapons to have a physical presence. In fact, most of the weapons are conceptually-based, and the Homeworld regards gross physical technology, such as nanotechnology, as vulgar. Thus, weapons such as “anarchitects” alter the meaning of architecture without actually changing its physical structure. Some of the soldiers in the War have been physically erased from history; by using a chaotic limiter to fold back a being’s timeline upon itself, the entity’s future self can change events in its own past. Such entities enter a state of temporal flux, which eventually stabilises with the entity either dead or erased from history altogether, existing only as a concept with no physical mass, otherwise known as a Shift.

It is believed that one of the more interventionist groups from the Homeworld used this method to escape from the War by erasing themselves from history, although naturally there are no historical records to confirm this. Since the Celestis now only exist as ideas, or memes, they need people in the Spiral Politic to think about them in order to exist. They are thus known to strike deals with the lesser species, marking them for servitude in the Celestis’ realm after death in exchange for certain favours in life. This ensures that their victims are constantly thinking about the Celestis while alive. However, since their victims often believe that they’ve effectively sold their souls, they think of the Celestis as devils or demons, and thus, this is more or less what the Celestis have become. Their realm is thus known as Mictlan, land of the dead. The Celestis see themselves as gods, aloof and separate from the Spiral Politic; they preserve their identities by using “worldofme” devices to back up their own personalities at regular intervals, occasionally “rebooting” themselves if necessary to ensure their survival. However, this lack of change means that they have become stagnant; to the rest of the Spiral Politic, they are seen as parasites and are widely despised.

Although they reduced themselves to this state in order to escape the War, the Celestis still meddle in the affairs of the Spiral Politic for their own amusement, and they are responsible for humanity’s first intersection with the War, in the mid-15th century. Vlad III, known to history as “Vlad the Impaler”, had been enlisted by the Order of the Dragon, a secret society with ties to the Society of St George; its remit was to fight the Mal’akh, but the Christian princes of Eastern Europe did not distinguish between the demonic “djinn” and “edimmu” and their Muslim neighbours, and often many innocents were slaughtered in the “Ottoman Purges”. Vlad III was a particularly psychotic butcher, responsible for horrific massacres at Brasov and Tirgoviste -- and since Mictlan exists only as a concept and ideas are strengthened through repetition and symbolism, it’s believed that the ritualistic slaughter at Tirgoviste created a link between the province of Wallachia and the outer realms of Mictlan.

Following the slaughter at Tirgoviste, Vlad III’s brother, Radu -- who had converted to Islam -- led a Turkish army to Wallachia to depose his mad brother. Vlad and his armies retreated to Poenari, an outpost of the Order of the Dragon, but it’s said that the march seemed to take longer than it should, and that the smell of death followed them from Tirgoviste. When passing through Gragov, Vlad III’s armies are said to have encountered a fortress that does not in fact exist; it is now believed to have been an outpost of Mictlan. Vlad apparently ordered his men to attack, but they were driven off by Mictlan’s gargoyles, low-level conceptual entities that guard the borders of the Celestis’ noosphere. It is unclear how Vlad himself survived the attack, but it is believed that he struck a deal with the Celestis Lord Halved Birth.

After the attack at Gragov and Radu’s subsequent assault on Poenari, Vlad III faded out of history. It is said that a severed head was recovered from the ruins of Poenari, but this was not Vlad’s head; rather, it was a preserved relic kept by the Order of the Dragon, said to be the head of an ancient hero who had been killed by the s’tanim, non-human adversaries from Hebrew legend. There is no entry for the s’tanim in the Book, although they are cross-referenced under the entry for the Enemy; also, the description of the head is suspiciously similar to the Head of the Presidency, which was returned to the Homeworld following the Faraway Declaration. In any case, it is known that Vlad survived for 400 years after the siege of Poenari, but it’s not clear how, or what he was up to in that time. He seems to have had little impact on history, and all records of his known activities were destroyed in the Grindlay’s Warehouse fire.

Though the evidence suggests that Vlad was marked by the Celestis, which would mean that he would end up in Mictlan after his death, he is known to exist in the City of the Saved. Ironically, his name has since been applied to one of the most well-known Mal’akh hybrids of fiction, and the Mal’akh hybrids that have been resurrected in the City thus regard him with awe and veneration, even though he spent his entire life trying to exterminate their kind.

Other participants in the War include the planetesimals, living organisms the size of planets. One relatively significant group of planetesimals are the Beshielach, which were originally created by the Homeworld but subsequently struck up a symbiotic relationship with the Greater Autroluban Franchise. The Autrolubans were suspected of being enemy agents, and had developed a method of dating War-era events -- usually considered difficult at best, considering that several different events have been known to take place in the same time eras, sometimes several times over. Working together, the Beshielach and Autrolubans apparently negotiated with both the Homeworld and the enemy, and arranged for their sector of space to be declared neutral territory.

But apparently none of that is really very interesting, which is why those entries are interrupted by a Shift with a story to tell about the future of the War. Following a series of complicated events that involved this Shift being marked by both the Celestis and the enemy, it finally ended up in a zoo of ideas on Mictlan. It managed to escape from the zoo by getting one of the Celestis’ indentured servants to think about it briefly and then pass its idea on to others; however, it remained stuck within Mictlan. Fortunately, Mictlan was attacked by a Memeovore, a creature that devours concept and meaning. The besieged Mictlan was cut away from the rest of the Universe by a group of timeships that had been sent on a suicide mission by the Great Houses, and in the confusion, the Shift and some of the Celestis’ more strong-willed slaves managed to board one of the timeships and escape. Now, the refugees -- including the fugitive timeships -- have found a safe refuge, perhaps billions of years before life developed in the Universe, or perhaps in another Universe entirely. The point of the story is: Mictlan is doomed to fall at some point in the future, and it’s still possible for people to escape the War.

The City of the Saved, which has been mentioned earlier, appears to be a separate, small universe located after the end of this Universe and before the beginning of the next. Within the City, every single human being who has ever lived has been resurrected in an immortal and indestructible body, and allowed to mingle in a city the size of a spiral galaxy. Time travel is not possible within the City, which has been in existence for 300 years as of the publication of The Book of the War.

The City is linked to the Spiral Politic by the Uptime Gate; its universal terminus is located at the exact point of the frontier in time beyond which the Homeworld finds it difficult to venture, and a cosmopolitan society of, effectively, border guards has been established around the Gate. It is suspected that there may be a Downtime Gate as well, linking the City to the next Universe to come after this, but this has not yet been confirmed. Nobody knows the identity of the so-called Secret Architects who created the City of the Saved, but it’s been noted that the enemy, said by some to have originated on Earth, is the only War-era power not to have taken any interest in the City.

The Secret Architects have only shown their hand once, perhaps, in the attack staged by strategist Lady Mantissa of House Mirraflex. Mirraflex is a particularly fanatical bloodline whose members have gone to extreme lengths to protect history as they know it, and it was Lady Mantissa who first came up with the idea of creating duplicate Homeworlds. One of the worlds cryptoformed into another Homeworld had originally been a human colony, and one of its natives, Verrifant, submitted to the Houses and was transformed into a regen-inf soldier. Even after his death and resurrection in the City, he retained his loyalty to the Great Houses. He disguised his sympathies long enough to get himself elected Mayor, at which point he began to campaign for stronger ties between the City and the Homeworld. When this platform was rejected, he betrayed the City, opening up the Uptime Gate and allowing Lady Mantissa to invade the City with timeships reconfigured as behemoths, which literally began to eat vast sections of the City, starting in Snakefell District. Once swallowed by the timeship-behemoths, the citizens were isolated from the City’s state of temporal grace, and became vulnerable to being crushed to death within the behemoths’ bodies. However, the attack was defeated when unknown parties launched the weapons of mass destruction that had been stockpiled by certain fanatical factions, and somehow managed to turn off the City’s defences just long enough for the weapons to detonate and drive the behemoths out of the City. The citizens killed in the assault were resurrected once again, and Verrifant fled from the City. His subsequent fate is unknown, but since he was presumably killed once more while serving the Great Houses, he must have been resurrected for a second time, and thus his current incarnation is being hunted down in the City to be tried as a war criminal. Lady Mantissa has accepted responsibility for the failure and gone into exile on one of the Nine Homeworlds.

Only humans have been resurrected in the City of the Saved, which has caused much controversy -- particularly when it comes to the treatment of alien/human hybrids, who are regarded as second-class citizens. There have been some attempts to change this. Het Linc, a posthuman polymath and former Ambassador to the Homeworld, once offered sanctuary within the City to asylum-seekers from the Homeworld; however, the City Council refused to support his offer and recalled him from his post. Amanda Legend Lefcourt, who was born within the City, is a particularly outspoken supporter of non-human and hybrid rights. She has recently been affiliated with House Halfling, whose founder, Grandfather Halfling, is half-human and half of Homeworld ancestry.

Faction Paradox is represented in the City by the Rump Parliament, which is allied with the Order of the Iron Soul, cybernetically-converted humans who were resurrected with their augmentations intact. This alliance is largely due to the influence of Cousin Pinocchio, a cybernetic human who was converted to Faction Paradox by a biodata virus that rewrote his entire personal history. One of the Rump Parliament’s most noted members is Father Timon, who lived in the 15th century under the name of Robin Wright. Physically deformed but mechanically adept, he was eventually burnt at the stake as a witch; when resurrected in the City, he was ghettoised by those who recognised his deformities as the result of genetic tampering by the Homeworld. He finally found acceptance in the Rump Parliament, and was killed in action while on a mission out in the Spiral Politic -- at which point he was resurrected for a second time, contacted the Rump Parliament, and advised them on how to recruit his past self.

The Celestis are also quite concerned about the City of the Saved, particularly since their own human servants have been resurrected within it, implying that one day Mictlan will fall. (The Memeovore attack has not happened yet; that story is not actually part of the Book, but was planted within it by the Shift.) The Celestis are particularly disturbed by the fact that many of their former servants are now campaigning actively against them in the Spiral Politic. The most noted activist is Gargil Krymptorpor, a posthuman pirate marked by the Celestis at birth and forced to kill her own crew when the Celestis activated her mark. In the City, she has become the leader of the Ghetto of the Damned, and has urged that the City declare war against the Celestis. One of the Celestis Lords, Foaming Sky, once attempted to invade the City using an adjusted worldofme device to create an infinite number of copies of himself within the City; however, his army was defeated by the Rump Parliament and the Order of the Iron Soul. Lord Foaming Sky was later murdered within Mictlan by one of his own servants, who was given sanctuary in the City by Amanda Legend Lefcourt.

Two other notable organisations within the City are the Piltdown Mob, a criminal organisation led by a Neanderthal con artist named Arr Ri; and the Sons of Tepes, resurrected Mal’akh hybrids who, as noted earlier, worship Vlad III, much to his frustration and anger.

At one point, Faction Paradox began recruiting famous individuals from Earth history, particularly those famed more for their deaths than their lives. The “Cult of Celebrity Death” was responsible for recruiting Byron and Richard Burton, but it came to an end after the attempt to recruit Rasputin. Shortly before Rasputin’s historical death, he was taken to the Eleven-Day Empire and replaced with a temporal duplicate; however, the Celestis then approached the duplicate, unaware that he was not the real Rasputin, and struck a deal with him, giving him a Mark of Indenture. The Great Houses noticed that history was going awry and tried to fix it by replacing the temporally-altered Rasputin with a version of their own at the moment of his death. As a result of all this conflicting meddling, Rasputin seemed to revive several times after attempts to poison, shoot, stab and beat him to death, and the whole affair has become something of an embarrassment for all concerned.

The original Rasputin, now going under the name Father Dyavol, was partly responsible for convincing the Faction to recruit Anastasia Romanov. Anastasia served the Eleven-Day Empire for some time, often alongside a young Arabian scholar named Nadim who had conducted extensive research into the djinn, the Arabian versions of the Mal’akh. After an encounter with the House Military’s violent Second Wave, Anastasia and Nadim returned to the Eleven-Day Empire and crashed their vessel in Tower Hill; there, they encountered the Unkindnesses, and were apparently told what their futures held. Anastasia subsequently entered the Shadow Parliament’s House of Lords; nobody is quite sure what’s inside there, if anything, but logically it must have the authority to overrule the House of Commons. An hour later, Anastasia emerged, covered in blood, and, encouraged by Father Dyavol, announced her intention to split from the Eleven-Day Empire and found a Thirteen-Day Republic within the days removed from the Russian calendar during the revolution of 1918.

The Thirteen-Day Republic was conceived as an anarchistic alternative to the Eleven-Day Empire, but its ideals soon fell apart. Not every part of Russia had changed its calendar at exactly the same time, and the land was given to violent temporal disruptions as a result. The borders of the Republic were guarded by the Red Burial, the spirits of 500 Bolshevik fighters who had been buried by the wall of the Kremlin on 23 November 1917. Anastasia had apparently been told by the Unkindnesses that the Republic would stand until the Red Burial allied themselves with a witch, which seemed unlikely due to their hatred of witchcraft. Unfortunately, the Red Burial was torn between their loyalty to their native land and their hatred of the last surviving Romanov -- and Anastasia had based her seat of power in the Winter Palace at St Petersburg during the days removed from 1918, failing to take into account that this was the location and era in which its traditional link to the country and culture had been severed.

Back in the Eleven-Day Empire, certain omens indicated that the loa that guarded the Empire’s borders would not tolerate the founding of a breakaway republic, and the elders of Faction Paradox thus decided to take action. Dissent was growing in the Republic, where Anastasia was seen as taking a leadership role in what was supposed to be an anarchic republic. Anastasia began spending an inordinate amount of time speaking to herself (apparently) in the Winter Palace’s Malachite Room, which was constructed of a material said to ward off witchcraft. Father Dyavol began to wander in the wilderness, claiming that he was fighting the Devil. Nadim began to smuggle malcontents back to the Empire, but was caught and killed by Republican loyalists. Dyavol was then found dead in the wilderness, having been murdered by persons unknown.

In this moment of vulnerability, Cousin Octavia, once one of Anastasia’s closest friends, managed to turn the Red Burial, and led an attack on the Republic on Valentine’s Day. Octavia possessed what is known as “witch-blood,” a natural time-sensitivity possessed by some individuals of the lesser races that enables them to perceive and interact unpredictably with the forces of history. Despite their mistrust of witchcraft, the Red Burial chose to fight alongside Octavia in order to topple another corrupt Romanov dynasty, and Anastasia surrendered when she learned what had happened. The Thirteen-Day Republic thus came to an end, and the elders of Faction Paradox punished Anastasia by forcing her back into history three times over, each time to be mistaken for an impostor of herself.

The anchoring of the thread caused many changes on the Homeworld, and some of its inhabitants chose to leave, believing that the new history thus created would lead to a sterile, stagnant future. The Eremites are sometimes referred to as the original renegades, although they were never actually part of the Great Houses’ culture in the first place. According to some legends, they will one day return to the Homeworld to defend it in its time of greatest need, but as they haven’t actually done so during the War, this seems unlikely. However, if the enemy succeeds in destroying the Homeworld, it’s possible that the current members of the Great Houses will scatter throughout time and space just as the Eremites did.

Beneath the historical structure of the Spiral Politic lies a network of interconnected space-time events known as the labyrinths, which may have been created by the Eremites. Both the Great Houses and the enemy tend to destroy the entrances wherever they’re found in order to prevent the other side from taking advantage of them; however, they have been used by a certain Mrs Foyle to found two interesting posthuman time-active business ventures. The first was a brothel known as the House of the Rising Sun; the second was the Remonstration Bureau, a venue for time-travelling assassins. The headquarters of the Remonstration Bureau are located in an area of space-time towards the end of the Universe, one just marginally too inconvenient for the major powers to attack unless they feel directly threatened. At one point, Mrs Foyle somehow managed to set up shop within the Eleven-Day Empire itself without being noticed, and she and the Shadow Parliament have since signed what amounts to a non-aggression treaty, basically an agreement not to interfere in each other’s business.

The Remote were originally created by Faction Paradox, who intended to use them as shock troops against the Great Houses. The plan originated when the elders of Faction Paradox noticed that many human colonies had become dependent upon their media, regarding the broadcast images and celebrity icons as more important than the actual politics of their world; in effect, it was as if the media had become their loa. The Faction’s initial attempts to influence the media of these colonies was interrupted by the House Military’s Second Wave, which wiped out whole planets on which the Faction was seen to have an influence. However, the Faction evacuated many of their followers and established new colonies in safe zones of the Spiral Politic.

As part of the process of turning humans into Remote drones, the new, media-dependent humans were fitted with receivers that broadcast media directly into their nervous systems and biodata. They were also rendered sterile, capable of reproducing only via “remembrance tanks”; when a member of the Remote died, their friends and family would gather about a tank and recreate the person out of raw biomass as they remembered him or her. The remembrance tanks were also directly connected to the media, so with each generation, the Remote became more and more a part of the image-intensive culture fed to them by their receivers.

The idea was to create a new race capable of processing thousands of different channels of information simultaneously while interpreting them in their own individual manner, thus creating warriors whose actions would be entirely unpredictable by their enemies. Unfortunately, the images in the media were too sterile and formulaic, and when the Faction sent their first Remote troops into battle against the Great Houses on the planet Simia KK98, they immediately charged the heavily-fortified defences on the assumption that a heroic charge into enemy fire would win the day. The fiasco attracted the attention of the House Military, and Faction Paradox cut ties with the Remote, recognising that their own cultural sterility had been a factor in the project’s failure and hoping that the Remote, left to their own devices, would develop into the unpredictable warriors they were originally intended to be. In practice, this has meant that the Remote have spread throughout the Spiral Politic, scavenging weaponry from the other major powers and attacking any and all sides in the War with no real plan or motivation.

Sadly, the Fourth Wave of the House Military has developed a devastating weapon for use against the Remote: cultural mediocrity. The Remote of the planet Fallahal have been conditioned to accept stupendously dull media broadcasts, mainly due to two popular programmes. The Jallama Reed transmissions follow the adventures of a strikingly beautiful, anorexically-thin small claims court lawyer who heroically fights for the rights of even those beings who are less attractive than her; these programmes tend to reinforce the viewers’ belief that their dull lives and mediocre jobs are part of a heroic and epic struggle. Worse, the New Young Gods programme selects the most mediocre of the Remote, challenges them to various tests of their media savvy, and arranges for the viewers themselves to select the marginally least smug of these idols to ascend to Godhood as a new cultural icon. The Remote of Fallahal now have no ambition other than to live out their ordinary lives and perhaps become a New Young God, even though these idols produce only mindless pap that reinforces the agenda of the Ruling Houses. The so-called “Broken Remote” are no longer any kind of conceivable threat, or anything at all.

The Faction also attempted to create Remote troops in 18th and 19th-century America amongst the native North American warrior tribes. This project was overseen by Cousin Belial, a Native American from the 21st century who used the rituals of Faction Paradox to be reborn in the year 1782, thus circumventing the Protocols of Linearity that normally prevent War-era powers from intervening in this era of human history. Cousin Belial mainly acted as an observer, reporting back to the Faction on the results of their attempts to modify the native tribes’ use of ritual warfare.

Many of the warrior tribes’ weapons, such as the Screaming Skull rifle or the “sand and snow” ammunition, used ritual and ceremony to transform ordinary objects into totems of fear and devastation. Not all of these rituals worked; the “ghost shirts” intended to repel bullets apparently didn’t, and the war bonnet created by Catch-The-Bear from strips of his enemies’ flesh drove him mad instead of focussing the pain of ritualistic torture upon his enemies. The use of peyote dream runners to carry messages between tribes was more successful, although the “anchormen” who kept the runners’ spirits in focus and translated their memetic messages often tended to put more weight on the emotional impact of the events rather than simply reporting the facts. In some cases, the anchormen would treat a minor local event with more importance than devastating events that were occurring a long way away, and in other cases, a terrible defeat for their tribe could be reported as a great victory.

The Faction’s interference in the warrior tribes’ culture was countered by the Great Houses, who used ritually significant moments such as solar eclipses to beam memetic information into the tribes’ noosphere, trying to subvert the Faction’s programming. Many messiah figures appeared during this time, all urging their people to reject the teachings and weapons of the white man and return to nature. The visions of one such figure, Wovoka, seem to have been channelled from the trailers for 20th-century movie producer Michael Brookhaven’s The Coyote Road.

Faction Paradox’s interest in the North American warrior tribes eventually waned, but the tribes’ descendants moved west, bringing the concepts of virtual and ulterior worlds to California and hence Hollywood. The North Los Angeles Cabal was an exclusive club of filmmakers with some ties to the Remote and Faction Paradox, and through the cabal, the rituals of Faction Paradox have become absorbed into Hollywood culture. This has resulted in such creations as Production Hell, an ulterior world within Hollywood via which money and effort is ritually sacrificed to projects that will never see the light of day. James Whale, the director of Frankenstein, committed suicide after being forced to work on the Cabal’s production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood for over two years; this film may still be in production, used as a virtual jail for those who offend the Cabal or otherwise get in its way.

When Chad Vandemeer introduced Michael Brookhaven to the Cabal in 1977, it had already become known as Faction Hollywood. Brookhaven was quick to grasp the importance of spectacle over substance, and under his leadership, Faction Hollywood extended its influence throughout Time, rewriting history both literally and figuratively via the public imagination. Brookhaven soon turned Hollywood into his own private empire, and after taking the name of Cousin Gable to reflect his ties to Faction Paradox, he folded his own timeline back upon itself, staffing his mansion with an entourage consisting entirely of different iterations of himself. Under Brookhaven, Hollywood became a world unto itself.

While working at UPN, Vandemeer discovered a Celestis meme-mine within the prop department. The meme-mines were used by the Celestis to enhance their presence and influence in the Spiral Politic, but Vandemeer used the one he’d found to create ulterior worlds for his sci-fi show Through the Eye of Eternity, under the brand name Genuine Concept Imagineering. One of the GCI-created episodes, “Miss Hiroshima,” has since vanished from the studio archives and has not been seen since its original broadcast; in the Book, it is cross-referenced under the entry for the Enemy.

Vandemeer eventually handed the GCI processor over to Michael Brookhaven, who decided to use it to create a pure hollow spectacular, a movie that every single member of the audience would perceive differently. The plot of the planned movie, Mujun: The Ghost Kingdom, was partly based on Japanese folklore, and was partly inspired by the near-legendary Order of the White Peacock. The Order is said to be an offshoot of the Yezidi faith, whose followers worship Satan as a hero fighting an oppressive and foolish god; however, it’s possible that the Order doesn’t actually exist except in fiction, and that its true power derives from Western culture perceiving it as an enemy and an easy target.

The story Mujun involves an attack on the village of Chiyuku by a horde of goblins, intrigue at the Imperial court, and the attempts of samurai from the Ghost Kingdom to protect Chiyuku. Baron Amatsumara, chief ritualist of the Ghost Kingdom, and Nichiyobi, its chief warrior, make a bet involving a young witch-warrior named Kodomo Kami, who is given the katana of their order’s founder. In the course of the fighting, it is revealed that this is all part of a complex plot by the sorceress Lady Wakai to seize power at the Imperial court. Despite the help of the sorceress Awaremi, whose mother was killed by Lady Wakai, the battle ends with Wakai consuming the entire Ghost Kingdom; it’s implied that Amatsumara may have had a hand in ensuring that things turned out this way.

All of the ritual aspects of the film were pre-ritualised into the GCI processor, and Brookhaven arranged for the actual shooting to take place in a single day at the Hollywood Bowl. By this time, however, he’d attracted the attention of the Great Houses, who sent their agent Christopher Cwej after him. Cwej had been recruited from the law enforcement agencies of the 30th century, and had initially jumped at the chance to serve the Great Houses, seeing this as his chance to fight against the powers of evil. However, following a mission in which he was exposed to hard radiation and nearly killed, the Great Houses force-regenerated him -- and as his new form was nondescript, fat and balding, he seems to have become disillusioned with his “heroic mission”. Nevertheless, the House Military still accepted him for training at their academy, the Gauntlet, which was located beneath the city of Kobe in 19th-century Japan. Cwej was also used as a prototype for the “Army of One” project, in which the House Military entangled his timeline and gave each stable iteration a separate identity. There are three main types of Cwejes -- the “original” Cwej-Prime, the fat and balding Cwej-Plus, and the bio-armoured regen-inf soldier Cwej-Magnus -- but there are enough replications of these three types to form an entire army, or a small House of their own.

Thanks to Cwej’s experiences with his own reiterations, he soon determined that Brookhaven’s weakness was his entourage. Cwej thus framed one of Brookhaven’s iterations for the infamous Black Dahlia murders, and then went to work on the others, eventually striking a deal with one of them and gaining information that enabled him to infiltrate the Hollywood Bowl shooting. As the story was meant for six main characters but was now unfolding with seven, the aesthetic of the plot went askew, and strange new scenes began to appear in the main narrative. Amatsumara claims that the goblin attack is “just like 1834” (the date of the Star Chamber’s assault on the Eleven-Day Empire, as it happens); the Order of the White Peacock is seen reporting to an unidentified master; Awaremi is seen working in a brothel; Lady Wakai is revealed to be wasted, diseased and “vampiric” beneath her mask; the King’s severed head is presented to the Imperial court; and most oddly of all, there is a truncated flash-forward to ten years in the future, when one of the main characters’ offspring is tending to a mammoth owned by King George III of England.

Brookhaven entered the Hollywood Bowl to deal with the problem personally, which may have thrown the aesthetic of the plot even more out of whack. He and Cwej engaged in a duel on the slopes of Mount Usu, watched by the Ainu, the aborigines of the Japanese islands. However, some of the movie was set in the same era in which the Gauntlet was located beneath Kobe -- and it’s widely believed that the enemy had a presence in Japan at the same time. Indeed, the Gods of the Ainu are cross-referenced under the Book’s entry for the Enemy. In any case, as Brookhaven and Cwej did battle, a presence manifested itself above them; in the surviving footage, it only exists as a blank space, as if waiting for post-production effects to fill in the presence, and the dialogue in which Cwej identifies it by name has been edited out of the film. The presence informed Cwej and Brookhaven that, since the rules of the story had been broken, anything could happen. Cwej fled as another unidentified force erupted from beneath the ground (from more or less the same location as the Gauntlet); however, Brookhaven arrogantly remained to confront the forces that were interrupting his film, and, caught between the two opposing forces, was never seen again.

The surviving footage was edited together and released, but, due to its nature as a hollow spectacular, nobody’s quite sure whether it was a success or not; in fact, it’s likely that no two people have seen the movie in quite the same way. In any case, Chad Vandemeer has since become the leader of Faction Hollywood, and it’s been suggested that he may have supplied the GCI processor to Brookhaven as a subtle assassination attempt. The Great Houses have ordered that Brookhaven’s surviving iterations be killed on sight, possibly because they fear that the prime Brookhaven was tainted by his contact with the force in the movie. Faction Hollywood’s power has declined ever since Brookhaven’s disappearance, but its rituals have already become so much a part of Hollywood that the city virtually runs on automatic in any case.

Finally, the Book touches on the connections between the War and humanity’s bloodline. On the surface, it seems that humanity is just one of the galaxy’s lesser species, but there are some odd discrepancies. As early as the 21st century, humanity was capable of comprehending the purpose of the Great Houses’ technology. A 20th-century scientist and philosopher named Roland Bela Nevitz had suggested the concept of biodata, a sort of “time DNA” that maps out the influence any being will have on history. Nevitz’s theories garnered more attention after his death; he was assassinated by members of the Remote, who considered him to be the spiritual father of Faction Paradox and therefore killed him as a ritual sacrifice, similar to the Grandfather’s erasing himself from history.

The point is, even though humanity was incapable of actually creating the Great Houses’ technology, they were capable of imagining it -- and it’s at this point that humanity abruptly stopped evolving culturally. Every technological advance made after the early 21st century would still have been entirely comprehensible to a native of that period. In short, humanity stopped changing just at the point when they should have been capable of imagining things unknown even to the Great Houses (and the length of a year on the Homeworld, incidentally, is equal to the length of a year on Earth). There are obvious conclusions to be drawn here, but the Great Houses would really rather that you didn’t.

Fifty years have passed since the first battle on Dronid, and the War is now entrenched as part of the new history of the Spiral Politic. House Tracolix, a Newblood House with something to prove, has apparently deployed a Ninth Wave of House Military troops, but as yet, the House is keeping their nature a secret. Tracolix has also allied itself with House Lolita, an even newer House that apparently only has one member. Only time will tell what happens next...

Source: Cameron Dixon

Continuity Notes:
  • Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed that some of the Great Houses’ early history is strikingly similar to that of the Time Lords from Doctor Who. With this in mind, the casts are presumably their equivalent of Shaydes, as introduced in the comic strip The Tides of Time, and the babels may be the equivalent of the N-forms seen in Damaged Goods. The War King looks remarkably like the Master.
  • Some dialogue in the audio A Labyrinth of Histories implies that there’s more to Acting President Umbaste’s death than was revealed in the Book.
  • The plot of Mujun: The Ghost Kingdom bears a striking resemblance to the events unfolding in the Faction Paradox audios, particularly The Eleven-Day Empire and The Shadow Play. Bearing that in mind, it’s likely that Awaremi represents Compassion/Mary Culver, which suggests that Lolita (implied to be the Master’s old TARDIS in the short story Toy Story) killed the Doctor’s TARDIS. The description of Lolita’s “true” face as “vampiric” may imply that she’s been tainted by the Yssgaroth. Or possibly not.
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