The Ascendancy of Baulis Prime
Time & Place
Year Zero of the Baulian Empire occurred 13,863 years ago. In this year the Baulians finished construction of the Great Temple, which was the crowning achievement of their first and only capital city.
The city was initially referred to as The City or sometimes The Eternal City. Yet as the Baulian Empire expanded, it added thousands of new colonies and regional capitals. It also discovered extra-Baulian cities that were founded thousands of years before the Baulian Empire. For instance, the Sarkandian capital Turretopolis had been standing for twenty-seven thousand years. The Baulians therefore felt obliged to change their capital’s name to the less grandiose Baulopolis.
The colony planets of the Empire are numbered from C 2 to C 78,432, and the subjugated planets from S 1 to S 2,756,300. Every Baulian child learns the co-ordinates, features, and histories of every galaxy and planet. During their regenerative cycles they’re updated on major events during the previous 13 temporal units (of 2.3 hours). The regenerative cycle, which takes place in a communal regeneration chamber, lasts exactly one unit.
The Baulian daily cycle — 32.2 hours long — doesn’t coincide with any notion of night or day, since Baulis Prime is poised equidistant and almost unmoving between two small stars of equal density. For millions of years Baulians simply had no concept of day or night. The planet is unmoving and the two stars spin around their poles yet not around each other. This unique astronomical arrangement suggests to Baulians that they’re blessed by the universe itself. Although they don’t believe in a God, if He did exist He would choose them as His people.
The Great Temple
The Great Temple is built on the craggy eastern slopes of The Pink Well. The Temple rises 700 stories, and each story is about six metres high. The Temple City’s diameter is the same as that of the Pink Well: 1.6 kilometres.
The Great Temple has two peaks which sit on the base of the first 350 stories of the Temple City. The top 14 floors of both peaks house the elite and executive branches of the Empire. Lines of orange energy run back and forth from peak to peak, and a sky bridge vaults between the two pinnacles whenever the High Council is in session.
The twin peaks are the two centres of Baulian civilization — the profane and the sacred — at the top of which are the domains of the Fractal Masters and the Fractal Mystics.
Surrounding the double circle — of primal pink depth and evolutionary height — is the Greater Metropolitan Area of Baulopolis, which stretches for about 300 kilometres in all directions, and has a population of about 15 billion.
It was from deep within The Pink Well that the first Baulians swirled upward 3.6 million years ago, having evolved over the previous 2 million years from nearly-blind creatures that resembled many-headed tadpoles to fourteen-limbed amphibians smarter than dolphins and more ruthless than sharks.
In the 2.6 million years between leaving the Well and finishing the Great Temple the Baulians were a busy species. Experienced in deep Well combat — where they fought like octopi and bit like sharks — they were equally proficient soldiers once they left the pink, unpredictable water. Although largely immobile on land, they moved with their stone war formations slowly outward from their base, never giving up an inch once taken. They devised slings, pulleys, and winches that could obliterate or drag down entire fortresses. They invented chemical guns that cold project burning acid two kilometres in the air.
The secret to their success lay in their intelligence and in their interactive anatomy. Their cubic shape allowed them to create dense groupings, like the 27 cubes in a Rubik’s Cube, yet multiplied by however many cubes were needed. Because their appendages connected one Baulian to the next, the resulting structure was literally as strong as the sum of its parts. It was almost impossible to dislodge a Baulian from a communal cube.
Their fourteen appendages — retractable at each of the eight corners of a cube and at each of the six points at the centre of each side of a cube — allowed them to pass information and energy quickly in any direction. In case of an external threat, energy from the inner cubes could be transferred immediately, as if through an electric current, to the outer cubes. Once Baulians learned to harness orange energy, they could instantly erect terawatt electric barriers around the communal cube. They could also emit burst of ‘orange fire’ that easily stunned or killed any species foolish enough to attack them.
Prior to their discovery of orange energy, the Baulians were able to defeat the beasts of The Wide Desert, who resembled raptors or dragons: they had the teeth of a T-Rex and could spit an electromagnetic burst equivalent to a bolt of lightning. After this, the Baulians defeated and enslaved The Swamp Monopoly, a confederacy of gigantic crocodiles and 28-sided carnivores who spun their piranha faces to create a whirlpool that sucked in their prey.
The slave creatures of these two primordial enemies were reverse-engineered so that any trace of resentment or independent thought was impossible. For millennia these creatures were used as domestic labourers and ammunition drudges. They are still used today as accountants and dental assistants.
The far continent of Andrandis was inhabited by peaceful herbivores who were less capable of defending themselves than baby deer. The Andrites had constructed tree towers overlooking the lakes, the rivers, and the numerous waterfalls that gave the air a fine gold mist. From their guest-dwellings in the trees they wrote poems about the ecstasies of love and the infinite expanses of the universe. They also wrote and acted in plays about the tenderness of forgiveness and reconciliation. The Baulians decimated the Andrites, except for 7% of the population, which they still use as zoo keepers, baristas, and lab rats.