Manuel spoke up without pause after the moment Lilea was done. They were not linked by any form of hive mind, it was simply deep understanding that they shared. “We offer you now the chance to leave, to turn around and go back where you came; with minimal damage; and you are still able. There is nothing you can do here.”
The General chuckled humourlessly. For once, he felt fear. His conquered enemies have said similar lines to him before. He always called their bluff, and pressed on. In the end, he would stand triumphantly as they crawled to him, broken in body and will, offering their surrender. Those who fought to the bitter end, he granted them that end. This would be different. For a race that does not know of secrets, they would not know of subterfuge, deceit, or simply witholding information. They only speak of the truth. They wouldn’t know what truth really means either, if they don’t know what a lie is. For them, informing simply … is. On his end, truth was also his only expression when he called them naive. For a race spoken in myths and legends from more than one of his captives, from different sectors, they were surprisingly naive in a way, a contrast that he could not quite put his finger to, in the endless depth of ancient wisdom that they otherwise epitomized. Or was it their version of truth that they simply believed in their shallow ignorance? He could exploit this naivety. He had led his people for centuries since gaining power, reaping in spoils of victory and assimilating several races into his repertoire of slaves, where they continued to serve his cause in exchange for their lives. His pride fought over his fear. He will not stoop so low as to obey words uttered by his would-be victims. Deep within him was a torrent of conflicting emotions. Nervousness, excitement, in the face of certain death. His anatomy was a unique one. Destroying this body will not necessarily be his end, although it would be preferable he survives. Ambition, greed, to be the one to bring this golden city down, and plunder what spoils that lay within.
He reached out, a reckless probe, his demented drive drowning out his chattering fear. In his most courteous tone, an almost absent expression in his culture; he sang, “Then, before I leave, may I offer a parting gift, a peace offering, perhaps?” He had to act fast. The immortal would not accept anything other than what he has made clear in his brief conversations. Knowledge of something new. Even so, it would be trivial, to be inserted into The Archives, strictly as a fun fact, not to be obeyed. The General hoped the nature of this offer would overthrow that.
“You did not know of something I spoke of. You did not know of secrets.” Manuel nodded, still hovering in the air before the General. The immortal’s kindred had lowered herself to the ground and was walking around the ship nonchalantly, seemingly oblivious to the wary soldiers. Her attention directed elsewhere laid off the pressure, and Kr’tk’gol had decided to go for all or nothing now. If this failed, he could still leave without ill results. If by a miracle, the technicality he believed to exist actually kicks in, he would gain so much more.
“At the cost of your … enmity, so to speak, I would like to offer information. Information, that would be of no use to you, but still, another addition to your Archives.” Manuel moved his head, about to speak. The General pressed on, “I insist you take it. Take this token of my goodwill.” He bowed low, pushing on. “Now, what are secrets? Well, to understand that, I must head down to the first step. The first step to secrets would be a lie. Now, that which grasps you to reality, to the now. To the fact that you are standing here in front of me. What brought you to these events?”
“I brought myself here. Reality is simply reality. What is there to deny it?”
“And that is where I am going to introduce something new to that equation. The reality is only reality as long as it’s true. I am quite sure you were not brought here by your own terms…you were manipulated into it by the sum of all your past lessons…now, I am sure you know of being ‘correct’ and ‘wrong’? Where discrepancies occur in your vast archival collection and you categorize them as such?”
“That is correct.”
“Now then, what do you think, creates a ‘wrong’?”
“Miscalculations. Errors. Mistakes.”
“Again, a ‘lie’ is missing from that list. I will tell you what a lie is now. You know what is correct, what is wrong. A lie is an intentional ‘wrong’, created by one who knows very well that which is ‘correct’. A lie is someone, intentionally telling you that which is not ‘correct’. I’m sure you understand.”
“I… do.” It was the first time Manuel had stuttered in a long while. Even Lilea had stopped to listen. “It is an interesting possibility. I will keep that in mind. Thank you for your contribution.”
“I am not finished. You have not thought it through.” The General was almost bursting with childlike excitement. He did not expect the immortal to stutter, clearly shocked from such a common occurrence in life. Was this entire race so pure, so obedient, that they have become completely gullible? At this rate, he simply had to show them the truth of lies. “What if, some contents of the Archives were lies? What if, your knowledge of certain facts were results of lies?”
“That could be … true,” Manuel halted on the new word, replicating it’s sound carefully. “But we will simply consult the Chronicleum for the correct answer. The true.”
“Ah, I do not mean to overstep my boundaries, but shouldn’t you investigate on the truth of the Chronicleum itself?”
“Are you suggesting that the absolute Chronicleum, is built upon lies? That my father has been lying to us? No. Not possible. He needed nothing from us, yet he decided to make this City. To make us. If he had nothing to gain from us, why lie to us?” Manuel tried to hide his disturbance. This new revelation had set off a chain reaction of thoughts, racing wildly in his head. He verified the first fact. He was his father’s child. He had firsthand experience of it, remembering the first instance of his creation. He had stood among billions of his kind, fully infused with the knowledge of the Chronicleum, in the complete City. They needed no instructions, everyone knew what they needed to do. It was by their own freewill. The appreciation of being born, they loved their father for that. What they did not know were each other. It took some old-fashioned socializing where they got to mingle, and with everyone sharing the same sentiments, a united prosperity blossomed in a short time. But with this new concept of a ‘lie’, what else was true then? He never had the firsthand experience in anything else, simply taking words for it. No. Why was he doubting now?
“I believe that is is you who lie. You lie that my father is lying.”
“Ah, but you see, how do you know that for sure? You have caught on quick, you definitely acknowledge the existence of lies now.” The General raised a hand up, signaling his fleet to turn around. “I leave you to your thoughts.”