Pax Ammaria (Chronicle)
Let me tell you a story about a book.
In the final weeks of each year, the personal press of the Court Chamberlain is entirely devoted to turning out a new printing of the Pax Amarria, Heideran VII's seminal treatise on all things Amarrian, and nobody notices.
Well, almost nobody. It is said that, among the teeming billions on Amarr Prime, you can find an expert on any subject known to God - and yet, within the uncounted trillions of New Eden, there will exist innumerable specialists who regard each such expert as an insufferable generalist.
So it is, therefore, unsurprising that GalNet hosts several distinct, distributed (and – naturally – ideologically opposed) communities whose sole interest is the print history of Heideran's Book. The Theology Council will declaim that Heideran's word is inviolable and unchanging, but the Paxistas (as they are derisively labelled by the wider print-history metacommunity) will quietly but insistently explain, in quite excruciating detail, the history of minor edits and corrections that "their" book has endured over the years.
That the Paxistas are permitted to exist, both within and without the Empire, speaks to the Ministry of Internal Order's tolerance, mercy, and fondness for carefully-monitored honeypot traps. Besides, a heresy so minor hardly warrants the kind of "comprehensive" solution that the Ministry overwhelmingly favors; so long as the heresy remains minor, the Paxistas can sleep easily.
This explains why, among the otherwise-meticulous records of the Paxista communities, you will not find any mention of the 62nd printing.
One of the unifying characteristics of Paxistas is that their deep love of their subject is trumped, ultimately, by their survival instincts. Those benighted few whose passion outstrips reason are known as Paxists, and are spoken of only in whispers by all right-thinking Paxistas.
It is to the Paxists that one must turn, to learn of the 62nd printing, for they are the outcasts who still keep such records, and is from one of their number that I learned the truth behind that fateful book.
(Of course, many rumors about the "62Pax" circulate among those elements of society who take a perverse interest in the forbidden, both within and without the Empire. You may have heard a few yourself, passed on in hushed tones? I can tell you now that, while most contain some kernel of truth, the Ministry has done an excellent job of "curtailing" the more accurate ones, in their own particular style. Listen not to such lies.)
You see, the 62nd printing contained a mistake. Just one single error, which while rare was not unheard of in the history of the Pax's quiet edits. Unfortunately for the poor scribe who made it (along with his editor, the editor-in-chief, the E-i-C's supervisor, numerous other tangentially-involved officials, and their respective families), the error in question was not discovered until the print run had already been completed.
While many of those involved protested their innocence and/or begged for mercy, the issue was somewhat colored the fact that the error in question was a misspelling of "Amarria".
On the front cover.
Once the Chamberlain's bureaucracy had exhausted their customary measures, and the screaming that echoed through the deepest levels of the Chamberlain's Residence had finally ceased, they found themselves at an impasse. Such a mistake had not been made in the press in living memory, and none of the functionaries knew what to do next. So they did what bureaucracies do, and they passed the problem upwards and forgot about it.
Some months later, a messenger appeared in the press, and handed the Foreman a note. Upon this note was embossed the most holy seal of the Theology Council, and written in faded ink, the simple statement: "all copies will be destroyed".
The Foreman handed the note to his deputy, saying "I take responsibility", and departed via the nearest vacant airlock. The deputy's reaction was barely less decisive, as the realization crept over him that, in the absence of any orders to the contrary, the books must have already been shipped.
It becomes relevant, at this point in the story, that the Court Chamberlain's personal press covers most of the surface of a large moon.
After the fifth and sixth recalls came back entirely empty, there were estimated to be nearly a million copies still in circulation. The new Foreman, being a reasonable man, judged that so few copies spread across such a vast Empire were harmless, and declared the matter closed.
And there it should have ended, if only the note had been worded less dramatically. As it was, the existence of but a single copy of the 62nd printing was sufficient to contradict a declaration of the Theology Council, which could not be allowed to happen. Thus began a hidden campaign to purge every last copy.
The first few hundred thousand were easily found, great piles of them sitting forgotten in silent warehouses. Quickly, though, each new cache became smaller and better-hidden, and soon the agents of the Ministry and the Council were tracking individual copies. As the hunt became harder, frustrations mounted and methods became more extreme, and more and more sightings were referred directly to the Ministry's elite Ordinators. Quiet infiltration operations gave way to screaming dropships disgorging armored troops into sleepy bookstores, which in turn gave way to orbital strikes against entire settlements suspected of harboring a lone copy. The Ordinators were fanatical in their pursuit and uncompromising in their methods. Lurid tales began to spread, the flames only fanned by brutal reprisals against any who spoke openly of the cursed book, and the remaining owners went into hiding.
All these things happened years ago, but the Council's hounds still bay. Ordinator cells, once activated, will never rest until their task is completed, and while copies of the Pax Ammaria remain unnaccounted-for, they will continue their bloody hunt.
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