So, that setting idea with the space Arks and weird multidimensional gribblies that used to be religious fundies and non-euclidean protein folding, it isn’t done with me yet. What follows are a few snippets from what I imagine is the indoctrination ritual for a particular Ark. It’s quite a challenge to consider. The general shape of such a thing should ideally emerge as a natural result of the Ark’s past. What was the prevailing orthodoxy on the Ark? Why did they leave? How would that colour their experience of the sanity-blasting multidimensional awareness mentioned previously?
“Generic semi-catholic Christian” is the flavour of this evening’s origins. Partly because I cannot be arsed reading up on specific faiths in this heat, partly because I’m starting out small and doing what I know, partly because proper blasphemy takes time to do right. I’m calling them the Broken Mirror for now, but I’m sure something better will occur later.
Accept despair. Embrace it as an old friend, a lover returned. Sing as it permeates the core of your being. Learn, in the farthest corners of who and what you are, the truths it lays bare. Let it grind away your past and present as the ocean turns the cliff to sand. Strangle your future in its crib, that despair may feed on the sweet rot of the corpse. To unlock your potential, you first must murder it. Let emptiness fill you. And know, when the void is all that remains, that Life is a lie.
-Initiate’s rite, Catechism of the Broken Mirror
The cult teaches that enlightenment comes from stripping away the barriers they claim separate a disciple from reality. This could involve destroying a person’s “limited” senses like their sight or hearing, stripping away their self-confidence or drastically altering brain chemistry to induce severe depression; to the Broken Mirror, serotonin and dopamine are liars that cushion the sharp edges of reality.
It should go without saying that the Broken Mirror are *utterly* divorced from what most of humanity considers the baseline for sanity. And yet, they display similar abilities to the Awoken children. So they must have figured *something* out, right?
Your senses are a mirror, reflecting only yourself. Let that mirror shatter. In that collection of imperfect reflections, you will begin to truly see. Shatter each shard again and again, and in the gentle caress of each razor-edged prison by which each new shard is bound, true understanding dawns. See, and bleed, and shatter until the mirror is as dust and the reflections beyond counting, and behold the truth. And know, when the space between you and your reflection is no more, that Reality is a lie.
-Acolyte’s rite, Catechism of the Broken Mirror
As I see it, the people on this Ark that survived did so only after being nearly destroyed, inside and out. When their brains began forming hypercube structures, and receiving and sending signals they couldn’t possibly hope to understand, it would break most people, no matter how hard they fought, much like how depression can steamroll over the strongest will without even noticing. And everyone’s first instinct would have been to fight it. But ugly as it is, there’s a tiny nugget of truth in their creed. Fighting the changes, holding on to the normal you know, that’s a death sentence. But embracing it? It’s not easy, letting go of the world you know, but it causes far less damage.
Well. In a strictly medical sense, and all things being equal, less damage. But the Arks were tin cans in space, filled with prideful, arrogant zealots who may not have had the healthiest outlook to begin with. They were subject to radiation from poor shielding, starvation when people could no longer maintain the hydroponic gardens, and violent gang wars as security and social order disintegrated. Without the infrastructure and resources of a whole world, they had no chance of coming out relatively unscathed. They learned that accepting the change worked, but they discovered it in an INCREDIBLY unhealthy way, surrounded as they were on all sides by insanity, violence, cannibalism, and worse. Their initiations have a high death toll, because they fundamentally misunderstand what it is that lets a person coexist with the changes coursing through their bodies. But enough of the utterly disenfranchised, broken souls they recruit are ready to accept whatever happens them that they can maintain and even grow their numbers.
Let the hollow bell of your soul ring out! Let it toll its great peals of negation. Emptiness will flow from your shattered form, and entire nations will drown in you! Let angel and demon alike cower before the dead thunder of your great and terrible apotheosis! And know, as the embers fade and the last thread unravels, as even the gods bleed their last upon the altars of your fury, that I was a lie.
-Penultimate rite, Catechism of the Broken Mirror
Broken Mirror members delight in stripping away what they believe are the barriers between humanity and harsh reality. To put a positive spin on something, to enjoy any of the little comforts of life from a hug to euphoria-inducing drugs, these are all sins, further barriers placed between the mind and the brutal truth of reality. They delight in crushing such barriers, and draw their targets ever further downwards. Much as various cults have done for centuries, they employ psychological torture to break their victims, to brainwash them. Once a victim has lost any sense of self, they are considered to have removed the final barriers between them and the truth, and the initiation begins as they are slowly remoulded into more fitting servants of the Arkborn.