Entry 2 – Scholarly Pride
Who were the Ori? In my travels I’ve heard them described as many things, some of which were admiring or idolatry, but none that were particularly pleasant. They are, however, fascinating to a great many people on this planet, so much so that I encountered a lecturer speaking on their history whilst travelling through the Singularity. The city was built and occupied by the Apex, an order of Magi who certainly have a masterful control of their Magick, the ‘Arcana’.
Vallian Fleck spoke with a confidence that will betray more knowledge than he really has; I can promise you that half of what he’s saying is either embellished truth or speculation that he’s just presenting as fact. Take it all with a grain of salt. Or a bucket.
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[auto filled: ‘We’] know their tribal origins are rooted in these experiments with a power called ‘The Spark’. Sadly, beyond that, we don’t really know what it was, other than the fact that it seemed to be made up of the energies that surrounded them in the planet’s infancy; essentially the closest to shamanism that they would ever perceive. [user comment: Right, because the Apex are so well-versed in shamanism today. You’re definitely the authority here. Sure.] We do know that it was the core to their culture, according to the records we have been able to find, from the moment they formed connections with others of their species; a shared experience that the Ori allied themselves behind.
Their love of conflict, though – that aspect of their society which has enshrined them in legend? That flourished as their power grew, moving away from those shamanic roots and forming a darker, more outwardly hostile side – a weapon that they wielded gleefully. [user comment: Now, why does that sound familiar?] Their kingdoms, their dominion over most of the planet, was quick to follow. It was remarkable, really, how far they came. And now, how far they have fallen.
In another of the lectures during this conference, a fellow scholar of the Apex – that I won’t name now, out of courtesy – spoke on the militaristic tendencies present in the world today. It was a boring lecture, trust me, and I’m sure he would love to hear me say that now… [laughter] But seriously, he included a statement in a way that intrigued me. He claimed that “To match the Ori in their legendary lust for combat is to give in to senselessness, depravity and base evil.” He seems to admire the Ori in the first half, does he not? That ‘legendary lust’, as he so delicately puts it, has been the inspiration for innumerable cultures that exist today. And yet, he so viciously tears them down in the second segment that he comes across as almost ashamed of his own opinion; suddenly he realises that perhaps such unabashed love of violence is not such a good thing. It’s a common theme amongst Null scholars and historians – especially here at the Apex, desperate as we for attention [user comment: Don’t tease me with self-awareness, Fleck. It doesn’t suit you.] – and it’s an important consideration when you look at the state of the world we find ourselves in.
We Null, as a species, have fallen so far over such a short period, we’re often conflicted over how to view our ancestors – [user comment: Perhaps you’d be less so if you spent time making sure you knew what you were talking about? Maybe? Who knows?] and I don’t blame us, but it does raise a lot of questions about learning from our past, when you look today and see the undeniable violence of recent years. Null bloodlines trace back into some powerful Ori family lines, but the present state of our existence leaves a chaotic black mark on their names that, even by their standards, would probably be a step too far. [user comment: Again with the self-awareness. I feel like you speak for yourself more than you realise.]
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[autofill failed] moving on, I think, to the Craven, a name we’re particularly familiar with here. The Agony they wield has scourged Earkran for decades, but recently they’ve conglomerated under a common banner and become something more than disparate groups. Here at the Singularity we are monitoring them, but their banding together seems to imply some sort of wider goal that we are yet to uncover. They are, of course, a lead back to the Ori that we must reluctantly follow, being the more vicious half of the two races to have persisted from the age of the Ori. The other, the Hallow, are equally concerning, as they appear to be reconvening their religion on Cal’Grim and filling their ranks with zealous Null converts. Regardless, that is for the military strategists amongst us to concern themselves with. Today, we shall discuss their relation to the Ori.
Perverted facsimiles of the Ori that we assume they are, neither yield any answers to the true nature of the Ori when interrogated, but we can extrapolate at least that both races have devolved from the original Ori biology. [user comment: I’d love to hear how the hell you came to that conclusion. Even if you’re right, we have absolutely no biological precedent for what the Ori were. You’re making a bold claim, Fleck, and you know it. The Apex lecture halls must be getting to your head.] Now, sadly, the Craven manifest as disgusting creatures hidden under cloth wrappings and long robes that mercifully disguise the worst aspects of their features. The Hallow are the polar opposite of course – we are all guilty of appreciating their beauty, I’m sure – but that unnerving perfection can also become uncomfortable after a time. In any case, both species hold a key genetic feature that sets them apart from us, the Null, or any other species that still persists today; their ability to wield at least parts of that fabled ‘Spark’.
We believe that the Spark reacts to a genetic marker hidden in the biology of these two races; they were made to wield it, essentially, or at the very least mutated over time to become the perfect vessels for its power. As much as we endeavour to uncover this marker, however, it continues to elude our best and brightest eugenicists. [user comment: Not particularly bright then, are they? Good to know the best amongst you are still fallible – a fact most of you seem to forget.] The Hallow and Craven both only wield parts – we presume halves – of the Spark’s true power; they have named them the ‘Vigour’ and ‘Agony’ respectively, reflecting their outlooks on the world no doubt. Magickal powers that manifest the life-giving or pain-inducing capabilities of the Spark, torn apart from the harmony and balance of one another and used exclusively to further one of two opposing goals. [user comment: Now this genuinely is interesting, and something I’ve tried to look into myself. I’m not sure Fleck’s simplistic explanation is quite enough to cover their true nature, but in both cases, there is a volatility to their Magick that would suggest a missing counterweight.] That fracturing, unfortunately, descends even down to the genetic level, stopping us from being able to isolate the one gene required – although, some recent experiments into partial gene therapy have proven promising.
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I’m coming to the end of my time here today, but I would like to end with a small anecdote surrounding the Ori and their legacy for Covenant. We gather here today in the Singularity as scholars, in pursuit of ultimate understanding of the world we find ourselves living in and at the mercy of the technologies we have access to at present. However, take heart. The Ori are our ultimate aspiration, the species and civilisation we should all aspire to one day return to. They have left behind a wealth of as-yet undiscovered engineering, science, medicine and Magickal power that will inform generations to come. Me and my team are at the precipice of something great, I am sure of it, and once we break through these genetic mysteries and uncover the key to accessing the Spark, the entire Apex Order will be brought to the forefront of the world.
Thank you for your time, I will now take any questions.