Necrosites

13 Oct

How can we recruit new spies? the leading archons of Sparta asked each other.

Athens was rearming, that was clear to all the officials at the summit of the military government. But they needed information about the war preparations and the potential of their mortal enemy. What were the Spartans up to? What might they be planning and scheming at?

“I know who it is that can help us to escape from the ignorance we have,” said one of the most powerful elders, an experienced Athenian statesman known for his sharp and resourceful mind.

A dozen pairs of eyes focused on him. “Whom are you thinking of?” inquired a battle veteran. “Who can provide us what we need?” asked another. “What do you have in mind?” questioned a third.

“There is an Athenian who engages in the smuggling of illegal merchandise throughout the Peloponnesus. He has in the past sold me valuable information on trade conditions in many places. Kerion is a person who has never been reluctant to furnish facts about his city of origin and its plans. I believe he would be willing to supply what we require. He is a clever and resourceful operator in markets everywhere and knows how to uncover what may be going on.”

A few moments of group discussion followed.

In a short while, unanimous consent was given to the chief archon to contact the smuggler in order to employ his services as a spy for Athens.

Kerion was exceptionally tall and thin for his class of Athenian merchants. Large dark eyes shone with a violet tint. As he walked through the central market of the great city, his attention was focused upon locating a likely Athenian recruit to him in his scheme for gathering intelligence on Sparta.

A single idea ruled in the mind of the searcher: my associate must be of the same species as me. There must be an essential identity between us. He has to come under my influence as a subordinate agent, completely in my power. That will be easier if he resembles me in what is most central and important.

In a few seconds, Kerion spotted a huge figure in an officer’s robe and with military insignia. He was an Athenian tagmatarch. The merchant made an instant decision to recruit this necrosite as a subordinate agent assisting him.

“Excuse me, Major, could you give me directions to the importers’ market?”

What an advantage it is to all of our kind that we recognize one another as soon as we come across someone who is similarly one of the living dead. There is never any difficulty in locating some appropriate ally for an enterprise that is taken up.

“You must walk a small distance to the left, up the hill,” said the high officer, pointing with his right hand. “I will accompany you there, if that is agreeable.”

“Thank you, sir,” purred Kerion with a smile, realizing he had been identified as a necrosite by the other one.

Only when the two of them were securely alone, unseen and unheard by anyone else, did the tagmatarch stop and ask the other a question.

“What do you want from me, brother? Why have you accosted me? Are you in need of some kind of aid or assistance from me?”

Kerion, who had also halted, went directly to his purpose.

“I am involved in an important activity that cannot be fulilled by me alone. The situation makes it necessary for me to find others to cooperate with me in carrying out my purpose. Only members of our same category, though, can become my partners in the endeavor.”

“Endeavor?” asked the officer. “What endeavor?”

The recruiter avoided giving an immediate answer. “I have not yet learned your name,” he said.

“I am called Arges. My rank in the city’s army is a high one, as everyone can see. It was earned by me during my present residence in Athens. Before that, I spent numerous prior lifetimes in communities across the sea in Ionia. As you know, those of our kind cannot easily spend more than one normal human life in any single location. Staying in one location over a single lifetime would arouse the suspicion of citizens of a city.”

“Yes,” nodded the lanky civilian, “I have had to move about in each generation spent here in the Peloponnesus. The fate of every necrosite is eternally to move and migrate when the time comes. It is impossible for any of us to remain permanently in a particular city or region. That is simple logic and common sense.”

“So, what is this enterprise that you referred to?” again inquired Arges.

Kerion gazed into his sky blue eyes.

“We must always be careful never to become affiliated with any particular city, since it will become necessary for us to move to another one somewhere. I know this from my own experience over countless past ages. One cannot afford to feel eternal loyalty to any single place of residence.

“But there is a way by which advantage can be gained from this condition.”

“What is it?” demanded Arges.

“There are certain opportunities in the area of information.”

“Information?”

“Facts about military preparations and planning. The state of the city’s defenses and the positioning of forces in case of warfare. Anything that could give the slightest strategic advantage. Such knowledge can be very valuable to the army of a city.”

The officer frowned. “You are thinking of involvement in espionage?”

“Precisely. Let us go to some tavern and I will describe all that I wish you to find out about Athenian war preparations.”

Can a necrosite possess genuine patriotism?

Arges knew at once that he was about to be tested as to that specific value. Fear rose deep within him. Was his new acqaintance going to make him into a traitor?

Work as a spy began on a small scale and its escalation occurred gradually. “We must in no manner alarm the authorities. The military hierarchy shall have no suspicion of what is being gathered about their movements and activities. Every step or action on our part must be measured and careful.”

Kerion grinned with delight. He had moved into a small cottage beneath the Acropolis where his new partner lived. The two told each other much about their past lives in various locations.

“I have been in Corinth, Thebes, Megara, and Ephesus over the centuries,” confessed the merchant. “My profession and work has forever changed, but this will be my first venture into espionage.”

“Are you doing this for personal gain?” daringly asked Arges.

The other scowled. “I want to believe that is not my primary motive. But what else can be claimed by me? After all, I start each of my lives afresh, not bringing any wealth at all along with me when I migrate to a new place. My needs are limited ones, no doubt of that. So, I cannot be absolutely certain why I have become a spy for Sparta. It is something hard for me to understand.

“Perhaps the adventure of it will distract me from the monotony of an endless series of lifetimes. I feel as if I am about to embark on a dangerous, thrilling adventure that can furnish me distracting novelty and enjoyment. It will be unlike the monotony I have known in the past.”

“You have felt bored by the patterns we have had to follow?” asked Arges.

“There is a weariness involved in never coming to an end or concluson, I believe.”

The two conspirators were strolling through the central agora of Athens when Arges unexpectedly stopped, compelling Kerion to do the same. The army officer had caught sight of something that petrified him. What was it? his companion asked himself in confusion.

A large, bulky figure dressed in a white academic gown halted, his eyes fixed on Arges. The two men stared at each other for a time.

Kerion felt his head spin. The stranger and his partner were exact replicas of each other. In every way, the one resembled the other.

“That is my twin brother,” mumbled the tagmatach. “We have not seen each other or been together in hundreds of years. It is a stunning surprise to come upon him at this moment, right here in Athens.”

As the one in white came towards them, it became plain to the spying merchant that the twin was a necrosite, the same as his brother.

The siblings greeted each other and embraced. Arges quickly remembered the third person present and introduced the pair to each other.”My name is Geryon,” said the unknown twin, his eyes focused on the face of Kerion. “I have only recently arrived here to take a teaching position in the school of the Orphists. We three must find a place in private to talk. My apartment is very near and we can go there at once. We can enjoy complete privacy there.”

Soon the group was sitting around a table in the quarters of Geryon. The latter related what he had done and where he had been in the dozens of lives he had gone through since last meeting with his brother, ages before in the past.

“I was a landowner, a jeweler, a musician, a priest and many other things in all the time since our last occasion together. You and I never happened to be at the same place simultaneously since then. We parted by chance and now we are reunited by fortune again. Things like that are infrequent but possible. They can happen to us.”

“Tell me, Arges, what you have seen and done on your own.”

The officer with military ensignia proceeded to do just that. But all at once, in the middle of his story, he stopped and looked at Kerion. What was he to say about his present life here in Athens?

A positive signal came from the merchant and Arges went on to make a revelation.

“My friend and I are involved in an information collection enterprise. There is an enormous demand for what the two of us can furnish to, let us say, Sparta. The results of our activities can be highly valuable to the other power.”

Geryon appeared shocked and awestruck by what he heard,

“That is surprising to me,” admitted the Orphian teacher. “I would never have suspected such dangerous actions on your part, brother.”

His eyes stared fixedly at Arges as he spoke. Furrows of concern crossed the smooth brow of the newly found necrosite. What was worrying him? wondered the other two. Why did he look disturbed and seriously troubled?

After Kerion left them, the two brothers spoke with complete candor.

“How did you fall into such a perilous complex?” demanded Geryon. “How will you ever extricate yourself from the situation you are now in? You are taking enormous risks that could end in disaster.”

His brother, the spy, seemed to be gropping for something not yet solid or defined in thought.

“Yes, I ask myself similar questions all the time since I first became involved with the person who led me into this business. Where will it take me? How will it end? I do not have any answers to such worries, not yet.”

Geryon placed his right hand on the shoulder of his brother.

“It was easier to get into espionage than to escape, that much is clear. We necrosites have been conditioned by our long experiences with serial lives to expect that every difficulty or problem is only a temporary episode that will soon be replaced by a new existence elsewhere. That has a deep influence upon how we view and understand life. We can afford to take large chances and gamble within any one single lifetime, since so much more time appears to remain ahead for us. Do you see what I mean? A mortal human has to act more carefully than any of us do. There is no future opportunity like we enjoy for the average, ordinary person in the human population. They are compelled by circumstances to be extremely cautious and careful in everything they do.”

“What shall I do, then?” asked Arges in desperation.

“I see only one way out,” solemnly said his brother. “Let me explain.”

Based on secret intelligence, the Spartan infantry sent a small number of phalanxes into a surprise attack in a coastal valley south of Athens. The result was complete defeat of the advancing force. Where there should have been only a thin wall of guards and watches, an entire batallion of Athenian fighters were stationed.

Sparta suffered a military disaster of historical proportions at the battle of Rion.

One city mourned its defeat, the other celebrated victory.

Kerion happened to be on his way back to Athens from Sparta when the bloody event occurred. His destination appeared in sight when he came upon a small squadron of men in military gear. The group surrounded him from all sides.

“You are the merchant called Kerion?”  asked their leader.

“Yes,” guardedly answered the necrosite.

“I must inform you that we are here to place you under arrest.”

“For what?” asked the stunned spy.

“That you will find out in time, but for now you are in our custody and must be kept under guard.”

With its prisoner, the platoon of men headed back to Athens.

Arges entered the apartment where his brother was waiting for him.

“It is done!” he loudly announced. “Special troops arrested him on the road from Sparta.”

Geryon rose from the stool on which he sat. “The report that you made to the military officials has had its effect. Athens’ victory in battle is the direct result of the false information we dreamed up for you to provide Kerion.

“The Athenians should be congratulating him for misleading the Spartan forces. They marched into a preset trap waiting for them. The Spartans suffered defeat and most of them were slaughtered. What will be done to the captured spy, though?”

“Athens will keep him imprisoned at least for a year,” answered Arges. “Then, he will be exiled. That is the hardest punishment in the minds of the citizens of this city. He will have to move elsewhere and will probably relocate at a considerable distance from Athens.

“I believe that after a sufficient time to think, the necrosite in question will be eager to go on to a new life in a different city.”

“Indeed,” grinned his twin brother with satisfaction in what they had achieved.

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