Naomi turned and found to her amazement that the doorway through which she had just entered was no longer to be found there, that instead there was a continuation of the same corridor stretching back into seeming infinity, as though she were in the Airport Terminal from Hell, only lined along the walls by a series of glass partitions that framed what looked like Museum displays, only styled more like ancient Chinese art lithographs. By the time she had fully turned around the woman and her gong were no longer to be seen, just a series of arrows point down the way to a distant vanishing point somewhere over the event horizon. Of a sudden the booth to her left became illuminated, showing a star-filled background that was breathtakingly panoramic. "Behold the Universe when it was still young and vibrant with the possibility of life," a voice from seeming no where emanated (though Naomi had no difficulty placing it as belonging to the Thai dancer), "Life took many wondrous forms here, among the most advanced was a race of beings so advanced that we might as well call them Gods for the sake of an argument. Like Gods they strode the worlds of light and darkness with their eons-long lifespan, crossing time and space in search of new worlds, new life and new civilizations, boldly going where mortal mind cannot imagine and eventually discovering this world, the Earth, one of many that they colonized with their Celestial presence." The booth to Naomi's right suddenly became illuminated, revealing a pastoral display of forest, hill and dale in all its pristine glory, complete with a bright sun peering down through cotton-white clouds upon this virgin setting, onto which graceful and unearthly, ghost-like figures strode out trailing elaborate costumes both gauze-like and revealing. "The Star Tribe, as we may call them, came upon this world millions of years ago and found it good in their own eyes, a wondrous playground on which to cavort in merry innocence, effortlessly merging with the World Soul to become its guardian shepherds, who are the Titans of ancient legend." Naomi blinked her eyes, seeing the hermaphrodite-like Bishonen figures come upon what looked like a hairy monkey, and one of the two knelt down to encourage said monkey to approach them in an inquisitive manner. One figure held back and aloof while the other took the monkey up upon his (or her) shoulder and allowed the animal to play with his(her) long, pale hair, the ghostly apparition gaining a beatific smile of evident fondness. "They took an interest in all aspects of life that they encountered, but among those curious creatures whom they found most promising were the ape-like forms clinging to trees and living on insects, nuts and berries. Some took their fascination to a different level, encouraging the slow upward evolution of these small creatures, and in a little as a few thousand generations speeded up their evolution into the more evolved state that we know of as Anthropoid from archeological excavations." A booth further ahead to the heft lit up, and Naomi---driven by curiosity more than anything else-drew closer to this so that she could better study the display, which showed a small ape-like form with glossy black fur scampering about like a pet while an amused pale figure looked on, even as the other figure behind her scowled in obvious disapproval. "The learning and evolving process worked both ways, however, and soon members of the Star Tribe were taking on harder, more solid shapes that were closer in nature to that of the beasts whom they cared for. Not all of the Star Tribe approved of this relationship, nor did they fancy the crude beasts, who were slowly learning to walk upright and had come down from their trees in imitation of their creators. Eventually both the ape and this branch of the Star Tribe adopted a more recognizably human form. And then one day the unthinkable---or some would say the inevitable---happened."
The booth to her right lit up, and Naomi whirled around to see a lush garden- like setting, into which a beautiful pale-haired Star Tribe member came face to face with a hairy, man-like, brutish figure, and like the prototype of all "Beauty and the Beast" fairy tales the two of them embraced, fell to the tall grassland and appeared to engage in something primitive and carnal. "The echoes of this union would send shockwaves throughout the whole of the Star Clans and resulted in a form that was neither entirely Ape nor Star Tribe." Again a new booth illuminated, and Naomi turned to see a proud looking ape-like figure with reddish gold fur standing tall with broad shoulders, his face not quite human yet far removed from apish. If she had to affix a word to describe him she could only come up with "Handsome." "Behold...Adam...the first of his kind," the voice continued, "He saw farther than any Ape before him and understood the link between Flesh and the Spirit as no Star Tribesman had ever known before. He was the archetype of many Ape and Star-Tribe unions, and in time he found a mate we know as Eve, the Mother of all Nations." A beautiful, much less anthropoid-like figure appeared alongside the man, resting a hand on his shoulder with her ample womanly assets on full display, a handsome couple by anyone's standard as both turned their faces towards the stars, clearly inspired by more than the instincts of their brutish ancestors. "The birth of this new race, however, was met by alarm from those Star Clans who did not share in a love for these co-created life forms. Some wanted to terminate the experiment in cross-breeding, seeing only corruption and a fall from grace in these new forms, while others wanted to study them at greater length and fathom their true potential. This lead to a division among the Tribes, so that where there had been Unity there was now division and antipathy. The perfect harmony of the One Race with its Unimind was disrupted, and this would lead in time to the first terrible war of the Powers, a hideous and perverse conflagration that would sunder the world itself and change the shape of the very continents themselves."
Naomi flinched as a new booth appeared showing a horrific battle with beings extending their arms and calling upon unimaginable forces. Streamers or ribbon and flashes of alternating light gave a hint to the nature of the forces that were unleashed within the battle as brilliant white figures suddenly were wrapped in black drapes by other shadowy figures, clearly symbolizing either death or destruction overwhelming these individuals, until the remaining figures fell back into separate encampments. "The war ended badly for the party that sought the destruction of the new creatures, for the children of Adam and Eve waded in on the side of their parents and proved the decisive factor in bringing an end to the conflict. A great Synod was then convened in which the fate of the losing faction was decided, and entire clans were banished from the world to a dark and dismay Nether realm that existed outside of the world of Gods and Mortals. This was the Great Sundering, and from it were born the warring tribes known to most as the Devils and Demons. The triumphant party, the Titans, then raised themselves aloft from the mortal plane so as to limit their contact with mortals, hoping in this manner to avoid further corruption and contamination from the temptations of a fleshly existence." Naomi watched a dramatic re-enactment of this selfsame gathering with struggling white-clad figures being thrown chains and all through a curtain-like circle, where they landed in a pit-like setting, cold and shivering without their luminous robes, some gnashing their teeth while bewailing their misfortune. Those luminous beings not cast through the circle of darkness then turned to one another and made similar nods. One figure--obviously their leader--gestured towards the sky, and as one they rose up into the air as though born aloft on invisible wires. "This happened close to two million years ago but the result is still with us down to the present," the voice resumed as a new display lit up to reveal two nearly identical figures, both winged, one with feathers the other seeming bat- like, "There are many tribes of Demons in the world, the Oni being but one of many, while the Titans and their Children, the Gods, remain a breed apart, forever warring one with the other while casting aspersions on their rivals, saying nasty things about their mothers." The bat-winged, horned figure stuck out her tongue and made a face at her angelic sibling, who frowned in clear annoyance at this gesture. "But what of Humanity itself, you might well ask? Ah, there is another tale that would be long in the telling. Suffice to say that Human Beings would grow to dominate the world, experience many rises and falls in their fortunes and glory, even journey to other worlds, only to fall back into primitive barbarism. Lemuria and Atlantis would each know their time and place in the continuous life cycles. The war had changed the climate of the globe so that the Ice Sheets would advance and recede at semi-regular intervals, dooming the stability of human life itself and forcing yet-more dramatic changes in human evolution. The line of the Cro-Magnon gave way to Homo Sapiens itself. Humanity's ancestors would explore other worlds and attempt to leave the Earth behind, only to be forced back into the cradle of their mother time and again until we come to the current age of humanity, when Humans are once more poised on the threshold of either glory or destruction." Naomi saw a series of booths light up, and as she studied each one she witnessed a dramatic presentation of wandering tribes of primitives learning to build wood and stone cities, discover the sciences, only to have it all taken away as civilization collapsed and the world grew dark as though under the folds of a wicked shadow. Again the primitive would arise re-learning how to chip stone tools, then master the forging of metals, the harnessing of the forces of nature, which then became a part of their religious practices, even learn how to transport themselves to other worlds by the power of their minds as a technology that seemed more like Sorcery developed around the use of artificially grown crystals. A race that seemed to be composed entirely of females then appeared commanding the bridge of a starship, only one came to earth with a recently born male offspring and bred her traits into the resident population of man-apes, who in time gave birth to a new age of Humanity as the cycle repeated itself all over.
"And thus we come to the end of our story
Good," Ganglot smiled, "There's hope for you yet. Now, time is money, so why don't we begin with the first question, 'HOW OLD IS HUMANITY?' At-chan, you want to take this one?" "I thought you weren't going to play favorites, Demon?" Yumi asked. "Good point," Ganglot smiled, "Then you want to tackle that question first?" "Huh?" Yumi responded, then glanced around and said, "Why should I take part in some stupid game sho--OW!!!" she cried the latter part as something swatted her on her behind. "I ask the questions here," Ganglot replied, "And if you three are nice about it I might even give you some answers at the end of the show. Now...Comb, you look reasonably intelligent, or more so than a certain Elder I might name, which admittedly isn't saying much. You want to answer my question?" The purple haired woman frowned, but like a trained Medical officer she began to say, "The archeological record for Homo Sapiens is pretty clear cut about that...we began as a separate species around about a hundred twenty thousand years ago...OW!" she yelped as she, too, got swatted on her fanny. "A good answer if you're an Anthropologist," Ganglot replied, "But I would have expected someone with Juraian blood to have a better grasp on the actual history of the human race. After all, your people and my people have a common beginning in the Star Tribes that founded us...the difference is a genetic drift so small that it barely needs repeating. Now, the correct answer is..." she turned about and indicated a huge square of light that appeared before her gaze, showcasing a kind of family tree with stick-figure symbols used to outline genealogy, "ONE MILLION YEARS BC! (Raquel Welch Dolls not included)"
You told me all of this once before, Grandma, how Oni, Gods and Humans all came from one central source, the difference being some kind of big Psychic battle the Star Tribes fought right before the first of the Ice Ages." "I know that you know the real history of the planet, At-chan," Ganglot replied, "But your friends here seem to be of a more conventional mindset, owing to the way the education system in Japan and China works (and I use the term liberally here). For example...according to conventional modern theory, Homo Sapiens- Sapiens itself only came about around seventy thousand years back, but this is based on a bunch of theories cobbled together from a fragmentary collection of bones painstakingly pieced together in a piecemeal fashion. Mind you I'm not faulting researchers because I have enormous respect for anyone who's willing to dig deep and get their hands dirty searching for the truth, but let's dispense with the Academia and concentrate upon what I know, which comes a lot closer to the source and doesn't require a Ph.D. to understand here." The chart overhead magnified to show one particular division from a single pair of stick figures to two other sets of similarly matched characters. "Observe, the Star Tribe, primal source of it all, which got into a major spat that resulted in the Great Division between the rival camps of the Immortals. One group went on to become the Gods who rule in the various Heavens that dot the Astral shadow of the planet. The other group...well...the common term for them is Demons, of which my tribe, the Oni, is a principle group in our own right. But let's break the word down first...DEMON...a corruption of the word Daemon, which mean...?" she smiled and said, "Comb-san, you want another crack at this?" "The word means spirit," Comb replied sourly, then blinked her eyes when her bottom did not get swatted. "Correct, we have a winner, Ladies and Germs!" Ganglot declared as lights, whistles and bells punctuated the word "CORRECT" over the purple haired Healer's head, "Five hundred points to the lady from the tribe known as the Nyanchiczu! The word Daemon is a general use term describing all entities who share a spiritual nature. Originally the Star Tribes were not---strictly speaking---of the material world, being highly evolved entities who transcended easy definitions. In point of fact the entire Psychic War deal was about the possible descent and corruption of the one race into the Many we have today, beginning with an evolved hybrid race we may call the Ancients, or Nephlim for lack of a better term. Humanity descended from this Elder Race, as did other specially evolved beings. Of course the road to modern day Humans and Elves didn't run all that smoothly. There were several twists and turns along the way, especially a side-trip through space when the ancestors of the branch of quasi-men known as Homo Erectus were visited about a million years ago by a star-faring race in search of some cheap labor..."
A cartoon-like depiction appeared overhead of a friendly looking cave dweller being greeted by some lizard-like beings in space suits who had just exited from a flying saucer, only to be netted and carried off into their space ship, evidencing much distress in their expressions over the matter. "First contact was a bit rough, as you can see, but with a bit of advanced genetic engineering these Proto-humans were given a leg up in the evolutionary department and were soon imported throughout the stars to various worlds, where they became as commonplace as space-dirt. Of course somewhere along the line they formed their own star-faring civilization and achieved nominal independence, then went on to colonize a thousand, thousand worlds in space, only to wind up in a war with a rival civilization. Observe what the outcome was of one particularly nasty and protracted encounter..." The image of a modern-looking man and woman stood side by side in high-tech outfits, only to have a large "X" get crossed out over the man, leaving the woman alone to dominate the foreground. "Too bad for men...it was discovered that women had certain qualities that made them superior for purposes of space travel," Ganglot revealed, "Superior reflexes, a heightened intellect, greater resistance to disease and injury, an improved ability to cope with the various stresses of living in space...all qualities that were found useful in a Eugenics program where humanity had to fight a never-ending war against an enemy whose very nature was totally alien to the human mindset." The view now depicted an all-female crew piloting the bridge of some manner of space vessel with no sign of a man anywhere in the picture. "Women came to replace men in all the essential functions of life, right down to biology," Ganglot continued, "Men were gradually phased out to save on rations of food, air other essential biological necessities..." "What?" Comb reacted, "But that can't be! Even we Amazons know that you need a man in order to have children..." "Not when your primary source of reproduction is artificial," Ganglot changed the image to reveal a set translucent tubes with people floating in them, "Behold their method of choice, incubation tubes with floating fetuses held suspended in an embryonic solution that duplicates all the functions of the womb. It was regarded as a far more safe and hygienic method of having offspring because this method eliminated the complications normally associated with pregnancy and childbirth, including genetically acquired illnesses and latent recessive traits that might be found through inbreeding." "I get it," Yumi said, "What you're referring to is a type of cloning." "Not just cloning," Ganglot smiled, "Not as much fun if all you do is endlessly repeat the same genetic pattern. No, these people were smarter than that...they worked out a means of fusing DNA from two different parties to create a child that was half-and-half from both parents. This way they could continue to have family units, which were seen as important for the all-important bonding process of social communion. Two women volunteers would become the surrogate parents of their own offspring, which neatly insured a continuing line of fresh material that avoids the occasional sequencing error that you get with direct cloning. Think of it as a society in which women fulfill the roles of both the man and the woman and you might get some idea of just why this particular civilization went on as long as it did in the face of an intractable war that threatened humanity with total extinction." "A civilization composed entirely of women?" Yumi asked. "That would mean that they were probably all...Aiyaa..." Comb reacted as the full implications of this came upon her. "Well, what do you expect, ladies?" Ganglot grinned, "Not a whole lot of sexual variety to quibble about on a Saturday evening. Of course these girls were VERY adaptable to playing both roles, and to them it was as natural as dating men would be for either of you. Nature always finds a way to fill a vacuum...and several other ports of entry that I could mention..." "But that's ridiculous!" Yumi declared, "If we were all like that at one time, then Lesbianism and Bisexuality would be a lot more commonplace than they are..." "Not if the Patriarchal Male authority figures had anything to say about it," Ganglot replied, "And believe me, they said a lot against that subject! For the past couple thousand years or so the Church has been on an Anti-Sex kick that drove the female libido down almost to the point of extinction! Why, do you know that doctors in Western Medicine didn't even recognize the existence of the female libido until late in the 20th century Even today some men have to be dragged kicking and screaming into accepting that women have an equal right to sexual pleasure, and gynecological medicine isn't even taught on the same level as men of a less-sex related nature."
Oh yes," Comb sniffed, "Tell me about it..." "Why, in some Muslim countries they even require a girl to have her clitoris removed before she can marry," Ganglot shook her head in dismay, "And let's not even begin to cover the outright hostility towards women practiced by Western society, which demonized the female half of the race as Temptresses and Harlots, contrasting us with their supposedly sexless Virgin Madonnas. You want to talk to me about most girls these days growing up in a state of sexual confusion? Most are even convinced that sex with other girls is mutually exclusive to having relationships with men, so when it comes right down to the whole question of female sexuality you guys might as well be like me, an outright Oni!"
I'm getting to that part, At-chan," Ganglot said with an indulgent smile, "Don't rush things. Now, can anyone here tell me what this process of Unisex transmission is called? You again, Purple Locks?" "The name is Comb," the Amazon Healer growled, "And the word you're asking for is asexual reproduction, or Parthenogenesis." "CORRECT! Two for two! You're on a roll here!" Ganglot announced as more lights, bells and whistles sounded, along with the canned applause in the background, "Now, can anyone here answer just why this civilization eventually did come to an ending, at least in the form that was then known as the Solnoids?" "Solnoids?" Yumi asked. "Technical term," Ganglot highlighted the words, "Sol and Noid...or children of the Sol System, which to them was their near-mythical birthplace or Garden of Eden, a sacred planet that they deemed too pure for colonization. Of course another way of describing them would be to think of them as an all-Gal force, but that's an Eternal story that I'd rather not get into! The question I asked was why this civilization all but died off a half a million years ago...and do you know the answer to that one?" "It seems pretty obvious," Yumi shrugged, "If they were as dependant on technology for reproduction as you say, then a war might go on for so long that it would cause an eventual technological collapse and throw everything back to the dark ages, and without men to help them reproduce..." "You're partially correct so I'll award you half-credit for your answer," Ganglot replied as the number "250" was highlighted over Yumi's head next to Comb's "1000" total, "The war escalated to where both sides were literally blowing up planets and annihilating whole fleets of ships, and at this rate of attrition it was impossible to maintain their numbers even by artificial means. So the powers that be decided to retro-engineer men back into the system in the hopes that they might form a third race and act as a buffer between these warring parties...a bit of problematic thinking on their part, but nobody said these guys were perfect. Of course since the only model they had to work with was their own DNA, they had to borrow a little from the enemy in order to create a hybrid that had bits of both races incorporated within it. Thus was introduced the 'Y' Chromosome, a mutant variant of the normal 'X' that we all possess as women. Think of it as the opposite to most Male-conceived Creation stories where the woman gives birth to the Man, rather than the other way around. Hence the Third Race was created, and men were restored to the gene pool." "That almost makes sense," Comb grudgingly admitted, "I've always wondered if Men weren't at heart some kind of inferior mutant species..." "Oh yeah," Atsuko snorted, "Like we women are all that perfect?" "A society that went on that long without men," Yumi shook her head, "Must have been quite a difficult adjustment..." "To put it mildly, yes," Ganglot highlighted the image of the Planet Earth, only with somewhat different geographical features of landscape hinting at an earlier era, "The Third Race, and a Solnoid female, were seeded on the home planet and allowed to interbreed with the native Cro-Magnon. This Adam and Eve story would have been impossible to continue if there weren't a basic biological compatibility between the early Hominid design---otherwise you'd have as much chance of mating a human with the proverbial carrot---and that of the Solnoid, and this Third Race went on to become the dominant species of man, spending the next several hundred thousand years rebuilding and rediscovering civilization. Then around about a hundred thousand years ago the Golden Age was rediscovered, the civilization we know of as Atlantis mastered the technology of Crystal science and created a star-faring culture that would return to the stars and recolonize the planets. This was during the long Ice Age when massive amounts of water were frozen at the poles and the level of the sea coasts was a hundred meters lower, so all traces of this civilization are long lost and buried to time. Some of the seeds that were planted back then yet bear fruit today, and there are indeed Brothers (and Sister) of man wandering the stars in search of their roots on the Earth, their mythological home planet."
"It does, doesn't it?" Ganglot smirked, "Most people who could afford to do so back then migrated either to the stars or to other worlds and dimensions. Earth became a protected world once more with only a few outpost cities to mark an otherwise unsullied and pristine planet. It was a fantastic age when miracles of science and magic were commonplace, while those who dwelled on the fringes of this society were the outcast nomads, looked down upon as mindless beast-men, which were in time hunted to extinction." "This was also when humans and Oni could co-exist together without too much trouble, right Grandma?" Atsuko asked brightly. "That's correct," Ganglot nodded, "Some Tribes of Oni even chose to colonize space, and they're one of the dominant Empires to be found in the Galaxy to this day. You can even find surviving groups of Solnoids like the Cthuwulf and the Leptons of Alpha Cigna. The Star-faring culture itself that gave birth to all this thrived for around sixty thousand years, only to collapse once again due to their supreme arrogance and folly, abusing the Crystal sciences that fueled their empire, which again plunged humanity into the dark ages roughly forty or fifty thousand years ago, what archeologists now call the Stone Age, where Homo Sapiens Sapiens emerged as the result of changes in the landscape and the climate." "Wait a second," Comb responded, "Fifty thousand years? I thought Atlantis was destroyed ten thousand years ago...?" "No, that was the Hyborean Era," Ganglot smiled, "And that ended twelve thousand years ago when the Ice Age came to an abrupt end and briefly flooded the planet. The Oceans drank what was left of Atlantis and humanity was once again plunged into the Stone Age...only this time it took less time for humanity to recover. Eventually we come to the modern age of history that emerged from the Paleolithic era, where some stupid nomads wandering lost in a desert got it into their heads that the reason the Gods picked on them so much was because they had to be a Chosen People. And what do we call this era, girls?"
The Age of Man
The Age of Man...the last several thousand years of recorded history where a race that has seen great rises and cataclysmic falls is now poised once again for an era of either Grandeur or Ruin. Which way will Humanity choose to go, and will they get an assist going there from the Angels or Demons of their better (or worse) nature? That, ladies and Germs, is the fifty thousand point question!"