Once, in another era, another epoch, when there could not be time, where there could not be space, in a universe that existed in conjunction with the cosmos but was not subject to its linear decay, games were played by a band of beings calling themselves the Fleet. They took the name because it meant fast and quick, like the time and space they were not subject to. The games they played did not interact. They played alone, meeting only when the games were finished and they needed time to rest. They had rules which they adhered to without recalling why. They did not discuss the games. They did not discuss with others the contents of their creations.
What the games might once have been was forgotten. Creations of a high order, perhaps. Existences of a magnitude not imaginable by humanity, perceived as magic, conceived as fantasy. The Fleet’s greatest fear was to be trapped by the cosmos, trapped by the games that were unwittingly being played in the cosmos, the games of flesh. They did not want to live in what they called the artificial universe. They did not want to be compelled to operate its bodies and live its lives. But in the end, they were creating games that were identical to those in the artificial universe. Everything they tried to resist, they became.
The Fleet universe collapsed. They tried to rectify it but couldn’t. They tried to find the reason for it but couldn’t. They thought it was because they had too closely emulated the lives of those they shunned. They didn’t want to live like flesh but created games of flesh, violent and vicious and cruel. Because they could no longer create the games, they chose to succumb to flesh. If they couldn’t have the real thing, then they would have the artificial. They joined the universe of matter and energy and time. They got caught in the cycle of birth and death and forgot that they were Fleet.
But there were rebel groups. One rebel group kept the name and called themselves still Fleet personnel. They wanted flesh too but weren’t prepared to succumb to it. So they devised a new game. With new rules. And they infiltrated the Sigma Sector with such subtlety that no one perceived them for what they really were: farmers of flesh. In this way, they were not diminished by flesh. They still remembered who they were.
[. . .][And] [t]hey wanted the real thing.
Extract from Chapter Twenty Five of FLESH FOR SALE to be published on December 19th.