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3,550 Years Ago
At first he was given no name. As was the custom for all those who were like him. Mendacia, the Seosten Empire referred to them as, both collectively and as individuals. All of them were referred to as Mendacia. Or, in the inter-universal trading language: Lies. Many Seosten used that word rather than Mendacia, not wanting to associate the genetic failures with their own people even as much as using their own language for them.
Who his parents were, the Lie did not know. Some parents kept track of their children over the years as they were brought up in the specialized Seosten schools before being sent to the choir that chose to adopt them. The records of which children came from which parents were not exactly sealed, and some of the children grew up knowing who their progenitors were and followed stories of their exploits. But that was not the norm for even regular, non-handicapped children. For a Lie, it was all but unheard of. And this Lie had been no exception on that point.
In their school, he and every other Lie there, regardless of age or gender, were forced to board together in the same dorm building. They were taught separately, fed separately, and trained separately from what were deemed the ‘real’ Seosten. And those same normal Seosten children never truly allowed the Lies to forget that they were lesser. At absolute best, they were tolerated. At worst, they were despised and seen as little better than the lowest cannon fodder. They brought shame to their families, and to the Empire as a whole by their very existence. A Lie could ‘surpass their inherent failing’ through an immense amount of hard work. But it would never be enough to erase that stigma. A Lie could do twenty times the work of the normal Seosten beside him, and would get less than a quarter of the credit.
Lies could not hold any leadership position in the military, were not allowed to engage in physical relations with non-Lie Seosten, could not own land or property on Elohim itself, and could be legally barred from any Seosten establishment that chose to do so.
For just over 300 years, this particular Lie had been working to prove himself within the rank and file of the military. It had done no good. Over the course of the last three centuries, every single time he worked to make his worth known, it had been ignored. Or the effort he had made was attributed to another, one who was seen as more worthy. They did not care what his efforts were, only that he had been born with a genetic defect. One that they would never forget.
After being critically injured while saving the life of his commanding officer, the Lie had found himself unable to fight on the front line with his injured leg. He had been crippled by a Fomorian trap to the point that he could barely move the leg. And while it was possible to have it fixed, there were only so many resources that could be spared for it, and he was consistently moved to the back of the line in favor of ‘real’ Seosten. The odds of there ever being the proper resources for him to be given the use of his leg back were… minimal at best.
That was why he had agreed to the offer when the Seosten known as Director Aysien had approached him with a proposition. If the Lie would come to work for him to perform various mundane jobs and cleaning around the facility, as well as allowing the Director and his scientists to perform their tests on him, Aysien would eventually fix his leg. He wouldn’t have to wait for the day that his name would finally make it to the top of the military’s list, a day which clearly was not coming.
So, he had agreed, and the Lie had come to work in the secret facility where they were performing various experiments to create genetically enhanced Seosten super-soldiers. The Lie was not sure what the scientists needed someone like him for, only that they had taken his DNA many times over the course of the past few months that he had been working there.
Throughout those past several months, the Lie had been all but completely ignored when he wasn’t needed. All but ignored, that was, by everyone in the facility aside from the program director’s own young daughter, a girl named Chayyiel. Apparently, Director Aysien was far enough up the food chain that he had been able to pull strings and keep his daughter with him rather than allowing her to be sent to one of the Seosten schools with her peers. The Lie wasn’t sure why the man had expended so much political influence and power to keep his daughter with him in the lab, but she was there. And she was the only one who seemed to pay much attention to him other than to poke and prod at him with their instruments or send him to clean up a roomful of blood or other bodily fluids so that they could get on with their experiments.
Chayyiel treated him like a person. She asked him for stories from his time on the frontlines of the war, and never seemed all that put off by his… condition. Actually, she asked straight forward questions about it in ways that some would have seen as rude, but clearly weren’t meant that way by the girl herself. And that kind of straightforwardness was quite frankly welcome in comparison to hushed whispers behind his back. The girl was curious about how his handicap worked, so she asked questions. It was as simple as that.
It was this connection with the program director’s daughter which eventually led to the event that would change the Lie’s entire life forever, and would literally make him into the man that he became.
Chayyiel had asked to see some of the memorabilia that he had managed to keep from his time on the front lines. So, finding himself with a little extra time, the Lie had collected his box, and went to find the girl.
She wasn’t in the lab, nor in the area that functioned as her classroom. So, the Lie worked his way through the facility to where her bedroom was. Nobody paid any attention to him. He was, as usual, invisible when they didn’t want anything from him. Some honestly did not notice the man, while others purposefully ignored him. None liked to be reminded of their species’ failures or faults.
Reaching the girl’s room, he raised a hand to touch the panel that would announce his presence. But, he could, the man noticed that the door wasn’t fully closed. There was something stuck in the path of the door which prevented from closing entirely. Chayyiel did that sometimes when she didn’t want to miss what was going on out in the hallway, when she wanted to feel less closed off.
So, rather than buzz the room, the Lie simply stuck his head through the door and started to speak. Before a single word left his mouth however, he saw the girl in question. She was lying facedown on the floor of her room, motionless and silent.
Seeing the girl who could be considered his only friend laying like that, the Lie quickly stepped through the doorway, her name on his lips as he bent toward her. Partway there however, he heard the girl breathe out, and quickly realized that she wasn’t hurt. She was simply sleeping like that.
As soon as he realized that, the Lie started to turn on his heel to leave the room once more so that he wouldn’t disturb the girl. Unfortunately, before he could move, a heavy hand fell on his shoulder. The grip tightened, and he heard a voice whisper a curse at him before he was hauled backward out of the room.
Back in the hall, the Lie found himself spun around and shoved up against the nearby wall hard enough to knock the air from him, his box falling forgotten to the floor. The man who stood in front of him, hate and anger blazing in his eyes, was one of the recent volunteers for the super-soldier program. He used one arm to hold the Lie against the wall by the throat, exerting enough force to choke him, while his other hand held a dangerous-looking dagger.
“I always knew you Lie freaks were monsters,” the man ground out through clenched teeth. “But I never thought you’d go as far as molesting a little kid.”
Eyes widening at the accusation, the Lie tried to shake his head as much as his position allowed while forcing his denial out despite being choked. “I wasn’t trying to—”
“Shut up,” the man ordered while bringing that dagger right up to the Lies’ face. “You think just because you feel picked on, that means you can do sick shit to a little girl? Not this time. I’m going to kill you, you piece of shit. And nobody will care. Especially when I let them know what you were doing.”
No, no. He would tell everyone that the Lie had been doing that sick stuff. The Lie didn’t truly care so much about his own life, though he didn’t really want to die. But far worse was the thought that the girl who had been his only friend, the only person who seemed to care about him, would grow up being told that he had tried to molest and assault her. The thought that their friendship, his only real friendship in so long, would be tainted like that was just enough for the Lie to push back against the man holding him, trying to make him listen.
“You don’t understand,” he managed to choke out, “she’s my—”
Friend, he was trying to say. But the man never gave him the chance. His eyes widened with even greater fury and rage, as he interrupted, “Yours?! You think that she’s yours? Oh, you sick piece of…” Trailing off, the man shoved harder against his throat while lifting that knife to shove into him.
It was over. He would be killed, and disgraced even more than he had already been throughout his entire life. The girl who had been his only friend would be raised to think that he was a sick monster.
And then the Lie did the only thing that he could think of in that instance, no matter how anathema it had been drilled into him to be throughout his life. As that knife came toward him, the Lie used his power.
He possessed his attacker.
The struggle was immense. Once the man realized what had happened, he raged and fought within his own mind. For almost a whole five minutes, the man’s body stood there, shaking back-and-forth and twitching while making small sounds as the minds inside him battled for dominance.
But in the end, the Lie stood triumphant. It was an act that was impossible for normal Seosten, possessing others of their own species. Yet, it was not impossible for a Lie, which was one of the reasons they were so thoroughly hated. As with other species, the Lie could never stop possessing the other Seosten that they took over. Not until the host’s death. Such a possession was permanent.
It was also one of the few crimes which carried a death sentence. Any Lie found possessing another Seosten would immediately be put to death in as terrible a manner as possible. The Seosten wanted every Lie to know that such behavior would never be tolerated under any circumstances. There would be no excuses, no explanations, and no trial. He would simply be killed for his actions.
Except that no one knew. No one had seen the confrontation. No one had any idea what had happened. Standing there panting from the effort of taking control, the Lie slowly realized that he had two options. The first was that he would turn himself in and be executed.
Or, he could simply not. He could live the life of this Seosten. He could let his old self simply disappear, and be a new person, one who would not constantly be looked down on and hated for a simple quirk of his birth.
True and horrific death, or a new life untainted by his condition. Those were the only choices.
“Don’t do it,” a small, soft voice spoke up from nearby. The Lie turned his new head to see Chayyiel staring at him from the doorway. Her eyes were wide. “Don’t turn yourself in,” she added, “they’ll kill you.”
“You saw?” As the words came through his now unfamiliar voice, the Lie felt his new heart jump.
The girl gave a very slight nod, biting her lip. “He was going to kill you,” she said quietly. “You didn’t have a choice.”
Shaking his head at that, the Lie pointed out, “They won’t care.”
“So don’t tell anyone,” Chayyiel replied while lifting her chin stubbornly. “It can be our secret.” With that, she extended a hand toward him to shake.
For a moment, the Lie said nothing. He stood still and silent, ignoring the voice of his host screaming in the back of his head. Even that, however, would fade quickly. Unlike when they possessed most beings, a Lie who possessed a normal Seosten (and won the ensuing mental battle) would gradually absorb the consciousness of their host, erasing them entirely.
Finally, he gave a little nod while accepting the girl’s outstretched hand.
So they had kept their secret over all this time. For over 3500 years, the man who had once been known only as a Lie had lived the life of the Olympian Seosten named Amitiel. Or, while he had been posing as a god to the humans, Hermes and Mercury. That latter name was the one he actually preferred, and the Lie who had taken over the original Amitiel had gradually come to think of himself by that name most often. He refused to use the collective name Lie, or Mendacia. And he was not truly Amitiel, even if he had gone by that name for many times longer than its original user.
No, to remember where he had come from, he preferred the name Mercury.
Over these millennia, he had gained a reputation for incredible spycraft, even among the Seosten. He could disappear into his role for years or even decades without exposing himself. Which was, in some ways, an effect of the centuries that he had spent as a Lie, being ignored by even his own people, or needing to remain unnoticed in order to avoid oppression. He was accustomed to working alone, and at keeping his head down.
His success was also aided by the power that Amitiel/Mercury had ended up with through the course of the super-soldier program. Essentially, he could extend or reduce any effect on himself. For a beneficial spell or effect, he could extend it far past what it should’ve been. For example, a spell that was intended to give him enhanced strength for five minutes or so could be extended to almost an hour. Meanwhile, where most Seosten tended to use their innate boosting power only for a minute at the most, he could hold his for about ten. Ten minutes of full boosting could allow one to do a lot of damage. And that ten minutes of boosted speed had given Hermes and Mercury their reputation for being so fast.
But even more important to his reputation as an incredible spy, he could also delay the effects of any negative spell placed on him. In other words, the spells and effects used by others to identify Seosten-possessed people were ineffective at identifying him. He could simply delay the effect up until he could either secretly cast a counterspell, or allow it to happen in a safe location. He could literally stand there and allow others to place their anti-possession spells on his host, and nothing would appear to happen until he allowed the effect to take hold much later. Even something like the ring/choker of Anuk’ite would not identify him unless he remained in the presence of the person using it for longer than he could delay its effect.
All of that combined was why he had come to be known as such a good spy for the Seosten. And in some ways, he now saw himself almost as more the man he had become than as the Lie he had begun his life as. After all, he had spent three centuries as a Lie, and many more as the man he had possessed.
But he never truly forgot where he had come from, or how he had been treated. He had developed friendships, but none as strong as the one he had with Chayyiel, who had kept his secret all this time.
That was why, whenever she asked for anything, he would move worlds in order to provide it. She could have asked for anything at all and he would have given it to her.
So, he hadn’t even had to think about it when she had asked for his help this time. His assignment had been to do one thing, while she had asked him to do another. And there had been no question about which he would follow.
His assignment from the leadership was to identify and eliminate any threat or force that could possibly reawaken Arthur Pendragon. That meant, among other things, keeping an eye on the Merlin Key, the child who could end up undoing all the effort that they had gone through to put Arthur/Merlin down. As much as he could be put down anyway.
Chayyiel, however, wanted such possibilities to be identified and relayed to her. The Seosten leadership were terrified of the idea of Arthur’s return. But Chayyiel wanted that to happen. As much as she and Arthur had been enemies, she had also seen the man as her most potent possible host. She had seen a potential partnership with him as the best possibility for defeating the Fomorians once and for all. And she still believed that she could convince the man that they could work together, not as slave and master, but as partners. She had looked for centuries for the best host, only to have her best possibility snatched away by Puriel’s treachery.
Now, she was seeking a way to bring him back. And Mercury would help her do that, no matter what it took. She had always been his friend, and he would die before he betrayed that.
Those thoughts and more rolled through his mind as his host walked down the hallway of Crossroads school. He wasn’t making the host walk, just as he didn’t make the host do do anything. Another part of the reason for his successful infiltrations was that he did not tend to exert much, if any, outright domination over his target. Aside from moments when he needed to take direct control, he relied mainly on silent observation, and the occasional nudge to get the host to to go where he wanted them to. Long-term possession followed by release tended to work a lot better when one didn’t have to erase and fill years or decades worth of memories.
A familiar voice called his host’s name, and Mercury passively observed while the host turned to reply, “What’s up?”
“Could you help me go over this assignment again?” the boy asked, “I’m not sure I understand it yet.”
His host smiled. “Sure thing,” they replied, “let’s go talk about it.”
The boy grinned back at him with obvious relief. “Thanks, Professor Carfried.
“You’re the best.”