The Divine Order

(...It Isn't....)



30th October 1999: Additional thoughts...

       This is just a largely historical speculation, given that the Divine Order, and even the Light Universe can be considered to be long gone, and gone largely without a trace.

       There's no evidence that the Divine Order managed to ever establish any presence in the Dark Zone, though it appears to have been known of in IWHS. Senior officers, even Admirals of His Shadow's flagship apparently had no idea it was possible to get there, in IWHS. However, we subsequently discover that the Insect came from there, and may have even sent agents back or killed people from there early in its history.

       From this, we may safely assume that neither the Divine Order nor any of its offshoots can be considered to have any real survival in the series. We are unlikely to learn any more about the Order than we now already know. Hence, it becomes a largely academic exercise, a bit of Lexx archeology, you might say, sifting through old Lexx to piece together a picture of a vanished empire.

       How large was the Divine Order, both on its own, and in terms of its place in the light universe?

       We're told it controls the League of 20,000 planets. Is this a literal number? Probably. Is it a current number? Possibly, possibly not. Kai calls it the League of 20,000 planets in his flashback, recounting the day of his death. Does this mean it was 20,000 planets 2000 years ago? Or was the dominion smaller then, say 10,000 planets, and he's just using more modern terms? Is it still the 20,000 planets 2000 years later? Has "20,000" planets become almost a ceremonial title, and the real number is actually 30,000 or 50,000? Or has it been stable at around 20,000 in the last 2000 years?

       For the time being, we'll simply assume it was 20,000 planets, up to the time of the cleansing. That's a lot of planets, but is it meaningful in the context of a whole Universe? The first step is to try to assess the relative size of the Order compared to its overall environment.

We are also told, by 790 in Supernova, that the Dark Zone contains seven and a half million planets. That's a whole lot of sunrises. If we were to assume that the Light Universe is roughly comparable in size to the Dark Zone, and there is no reason not to, then we might assume that the Light Universe has a roughly similar number of planets.

       Of these, how many are inhabited worlds. Again, no way to know, but we can use existing knowledge to draw some assumptions. 790 does not define worlds, in terms of size, but we can assume he's not counting every rock and comet out there. Let's assume he defines a planet as a large stable mass holding a fixed orbit, and exhibiting potential for things like atmosphere, geology, etc.

       Our solar system contains nine planets, [Well, possibly ten, if the last astronomical 'discovery' proves to be verifiable... Flare] plus another seven planetary satellites (including our moon) large enough to qualify as worlds of their own (i.e, as large as or larger than the smallest recognized planet, Pluto), some of which contain atmospheres and actively volcanic geology. So lets call it a total of sixteen planets for Sol, of which one supports life.

[We'll also assume that life as referred to in this exposition means carbon-based, oxygen-breathing beings exhibiting similar characteristics to Terran humans.]

       Scientists have identified other solar systems, but so far, we can only pick out Jovian type giant planets. Ours is the only one we know in detail. So lets assume that this ratio of one in sixteen planets being a habitable world is pretty typical, for stars of our type.

       Of course, not all stars are our type, middle aged, middle sized yellows [G-type stars according to the Hertzprung-Russell classification... Flare]. I think only about half are sol types [Less, I think, but don't have the specs to confirm... Flare]. The rest are too big, or too small, too old, or too young. For one reason or another, some of the sol types may not be suitable. So let's assume only one in three stars harbours a suitable planet.

       Which means we could expect one habitable world for every forty-eight planets. Rounding off, that makes for roughly 2% of planets to be life supporting. So, if the Light Universe had about 7,500,000, planets, we might see roughly 150,000 of them being inhabited or habitable. Which would make the Divine Order's 20,000 pretty small potatoes.

       Some cautionary notes here. We're assuming that the Light Universe is the same size as the Dark Zone, and about the same age and distribution of stars. Might not be true. Conceivably, the Light Universe could be much larger than the Dark Zone, in which case we might be looking at a million or more habitable worlds, or much smaller, in which case, the League may well be most of the worlds out there.

[I'd always assumed that the Light Universe actually only refers to the galaxy in which the stories are set - or at the very most the local 'local cluster'. Humans have a tendency to bandy expressions like 'universe', 'eternity' and 'infinity' around without having any real conception of the meaning of the words! However, I may be being needlessly obstructive here. Perhaps I'd better just shut up...]

       And a lot depends on how we construct 790's statement. For instance, supposing his definition of planets was much more narrow. Suppose that 7,500,000 were only earth range worlds found in the solar temperate zone to support life, and he was excluding gas giants, frozen dark iceballs, and sun hugging scorch rocks. Well, we've got three of those kind, one of which is inhabited. Which, even discounting for stars, gives us about one in ten, or around 750,000 worlds.

       Or supposing he's counting everything which could reasonably be called a planet, self contained mass, fixed reasonable orbit, including largish asteroids. I'd estimate fifty of those bodies in our solar system, although it really depends on where you cut off the size limit. Assuming again, one third of stars are usable, your ratio is one in 150 or greater and you're down to maybe fifty thousand or even much less.

       Well, that's about as far as I want to take the numbers game.

      Let's try a different perspective. In Lexx the series, we see no less than two spaceborne brothels, and a spacebased hospital. These facilities don't exist in a social vacuum. For them to exist at all, there must be societies large enough and wealthy enough to support them, and to keep on supporting them even after the Divine Order implements its cleansing. The fact that they're located and operating successfully in space, remote from habitable planets (that we know of) suggests that these societies are thriving, multi-world, space travelling cultures, for whom space travel is common enough and cheap enough to make these facilities accessible and worthwhile.

       None of these facilities seem to have been unduly inconvenienced by the collapse of the Divine Order, or the League of 20,000 planets.

       I'd assume that if the League was a dominating influence in the Universe, like the US is in our world, then its collapse and disappearance might have precipitated a universe wide depression. Rather, from the very limited views we get, there doesn't seem to be a lot of economic dislocation. Mind you, if there were, perhaps Hospitals and Brothels would weather the storms best.

       In Patches in the Sky, Gubby refers to the old Ion Wars, which appears to be a series of conflicts unrelated to the Divine Order or the League of 20,000 worlds. The TV world and the societies that created it in Lafftrack also seem to be independent of the Divine Order, as does the industrial society behind the Stripper Ship in Love Grows.

       In short, there appears to be life beyond the Divine Order. A lot of it. And it seems to be life which isn't materially affected by the passing of the Divine Order. [Hmm... Even more like the US, then?... Flare]

       This suggests to me that the Divine Order was not the sole or overwhelming political force in the Light Universe. It definitely did not control 100% of the worlds out there, or even a majority of the worlds. It was probably merely one competing political unit, among others.

       Arguably, it may well have been by far the largest. Even if the League was stable at 20,000 worlds, that's an immense number to attempt to govern. There is no sign in Lexx of any other spacegoing culture, outside the Heretics, who were imposing governance on any significant volume of space. And most other civilisations or cultures would lack an immortal God/King to impose his will over thousands of years.

       I tend to see the Light Zone, outside the League as a series of independent planets, almost like Greek City states, some groups of which form coalitions, federations, affiliations, unions, etc. of varying strength, for economic, cultural or military purposes.

       Quite probably the only political organization in the Light Universe even close to the Divine Order in size and power were the Heretics, which would have been a coalition of worlds in the path of the League of 20,000 Planets who'd banded together for sheer survival. Outside of immediate danger from the League, I don't see much basis for greater organizations.

       The lack of apparent impact may also suggest that the League probably pursued a policy of expansionist isolationism. Not a lot of trade or interraction with the heretics and heathens. In this respect, it would probably be much like China today or Japan a couple of centuries ago. If the League was not totally overwhelming the Universe, such that there was little that did not depend on it, and if it did pursue a policy of having no ties with outsiders, its disappearance would scarcely be missed. Quite the contrary, the fall of the League as a political unit might have opened up an economic boom.

       How old is the Divine Order? Immensely old. Awesomely old.

       First, let's establish our sequence of historical events, and try to put some dates in that, working backwards, we have:
              The Present
              Destruction of the Brunnen G
              Establishment of Brunnis 2 and the duration of Brunnis 2 Civilisation
              Departure from Brunnis for the Light Universe
              Victory in the Insect Wars

       It's established in IWHS that the destruction of Brunnis 2 takes place some two thousand and eight years ago. That's easy.

       In Brigadoom, we have references to people having 6000 and 10,000 years of memory. Since immortality was only achieved after settling on Brunnis 2, and assuming that these statements are not hyperbole, this suggests that Brunnis 2 was inhabited for as much as 10,000 years, or even longer.

       Brigadoom also suggests that the Brunnen G did not abandon Brunnis immediately after the insect wars. Rather, by the time they'd upped and moved to the Light Universe, Humanity had mostly forgotten about them, and had taken to engaging in fratricidal wars. The insect wars were ancient history, which could be anywhere from twenty years ago, to a few thousand years ago, the way people count.

       However, in SuperNova, the brains tell Giggerota they contain memories of people who'd walked the streets of the original Brunnis, even before it was abandoned. Which means His Divine Shadow must have been active, well before Brunnis 2 was founded or before the Brunnen G left their original homeworld, which puts him at way over 8000 to 12,000 years plus.

       Finally, from Mantrid, and Gigashadow, we learn that His Shadow is actually a last survivor from the insect wars, which suggests that the Insect Wars were not yet over, or at least had only just ended when this insect fled to the Light Universe and conceived its plans and created the first Divine Shadow. Which means he was probably ancient by the time Brunnis was abandoned. Exact timing for the departure from Brunnis and the End of the Insect Wars is unknown, but these events still allow us to mark the history of the Divine Shadow.

       All in all, we're looking at a being who spans most of the post-insect wars history, a period somewhere in the neighborhood of 8,000 years minimum, and as much as 15,000 years or more.

       So, what can we say about the history of the Divine Order and His Shadow during this time.

       The only terrestrial institution which was even close to this, in terms of an ancient institutional and bureaucratic history, is the Catholic Church. Possibly there were Asian institutions/societies of similar antiquity, but I don't know those very well.

       But compared to the Divine Order, the Catholic Church is a mere whippersnapper, barely 1800 years old. Even so, it's gone through two major schismatic periods, the reformation/renaissance say 1450 to 1650 which resulted in most of the Protestant sects, and the earlier schism of 600 to 800 in which the Orthodox and Coptic sects were established.

       The Divine Order may have reached the absolute logistical limits of political expansion at 20,000+ worlds. By this, I mean, that given transportation times, costs of policing, military forces, social administrations, centralized bureaucracy, and administration issues the Divine Order may have reached functional limits.

       Look at it this way. A city government exacts taxes from its citizens in order to pay for basic services, sewer, water, electrical etc. The further it expands its borders, the more expensive it becomes to provide these services, and the more it must raise taxes. At some point of expansion, it simply doesn't pay, the cost of increased services is greater than the taxes you will recover from the expanded areas. You can postpone the crunch by increasing taxes for everyone, so that the residents of inner cities wind up helping to support outlying areas which aren't themselves cost effective. You can also save money by reducing the level of services provided. But these are only postponing the inevitable problem, if you keep expanding, you'll eventually reach a point where the costs of services are simply greater than the maximum amount of taxes you can scrape out of an extremely unhappy population.

       Consider the case of the Piemaker convicted of not donating to the Temple, in IWHS. It seems here was a small businessman who felt taxed to the limit. Was this a sign that the League had reached a critical mass, and that taxes had to be excessive or maximum to support a state which had grown too large?

       In modern times, most of the great colonial Empires, Britain France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal and Russia eventually dismantled themselves, for the simple reason that they could no longer afford their empires. It was not cost effective.

       In a space empire, it must be worse. To double the size of your Empire, you have to cube the numbers of warships you need to patrol and defend it. Each planet will require a separate administration, both civil and military.

       Travel and communication times and costs must also play a part. If it's cheaper to trade with outsiders, than with the rest of your Empire, it's the beginning of the end for you. It also probably means that it's cheaper for the enemy to attack your outposts than it is for you to defend them. How do you make effective decisions, militarily or economically, when it may take days or even weeks to travel from one end to another.

       The old Roman Empire, faced with this problem, found itself breaking up into halves, and then into quarters. When the western half went down, the eastern half kept on chugging along, eventually renamed as the Byzantine Empire, for another thousand years.

       All of this would tend to put limitations on interstellar states or empires. Sooner or later, they'd all reach a point of equilibrium, where it just didn't make any sense to get bigger. And if they did get bigger, they'd shortly spend their treasuries trying to hold it all together and eventually dissolve.

       Historically, the Empires and organizations that have lasted longest, or grown most successful (with plenty of exceptions allowed for) have tended to be successive dictatorships, which, time after time, replace old Popes or Tsars with new versions with about the same intentions, resulting in more or less a continuous policy.

       With the Divine Order, there would have always been a His Divine Shadow, in different incarnations, but always, more or less, the same being, doing the same things, with the same goals and agendas.

       Doubtless, the Divine Order started out small. It probably took His Shadow centuries, or even millennia to take his first few planets.

       However, in the current structure of the League/Order we may have a few clues as to how it was carried out.

       Note that even at this time, there is a small but apparent distinction between the offices of the Divine Order and the offices of the Government. The Divine Order functions through Temples, which are referred to a few times in IWHS. There is at least a theoretical division between Church and State.

       The Baker is accused of not giving money to the temple, Giggerota of violating temples, Thodin is accused of destroying forces "loyal to His Shadow." Interesting turns of phrase, especially in regard to Thodin. Why "loyal to His Shadow" and not simply His Shadow's?

       This may have its roots in the early history, and perhaps in certain continuing policies, of the Divine Order.

       One imagines that the Divine Order may have spread originally, much like the early Catholic Church, through missionaries and missionary works. Look at it this way: The Divine Order moves in, opens some temples, opens some schools, clinics, hospitals, etc., does various good works. Local or planetary government doesn't mind too much, its stuff that they don't have to pay for, and there's always a demand for that kind of thing. If there's a depression, famine or other economic or social dislocation, governments will be quite happy to abdicate services to the Divine Order.

       The Divine Order maintains its facilities by pumping in money from other worlds, and not from local taxes or donations. Soon, locally funded services and businesses discover they can't compete with the Divine Order, and begin to fall by the wayside, or get bought out, or run off, or just fade away.

       The Divine Order probably also had overtones of modern Scientology practices, targeting and attacking its enemies, sucking monies out of its followers, recruiting high profile members, etc.

       Eventually, the Divine Order is providing or supplanting state services, and controls a portion of the Planet's population, either a chunk of the masses, or of the ruling classes, or both. Then it makes its move..... On to the next planet.

       At least some ceremonial form of this missionary expansion was still going on as late as IWHS from what we see of the ceremony and speeches for the Medal of Honour Winners "to spread His Shadow's Light to the Dark Corners where it has not yet shone." But it is difficult to tell from this whether it is now a historical relic, or a valid and ongoing part of the Divine Order's expansion.

       Essentially, such a form of expansion would function best if you weren't tied to a "state" model. Thus, the expansion of religious structures like the Catholic Church. In modern times, this kind of thing has also emerged in the form of totalitarian Party systems: The Communist Party, which claims to transcend state borders is the best examples. But Fascist national parties, in Italy, Germany and Spain, also maintained a separation between the State and the ruling party apparatus.

       Military or "state" power would come into play to consolidate gains, or to tip the scales. A planet already rotten and falling to the Divine Order might find a fleet in its skies one morning to discourage thoughts of resistance.

       Of course, military power might also be used for outright conquests, but even then, some degree of subversion by the Divine Order on the ground, might make things easier. Also, keeping the Divine Order separate from the state might make assimilation of conquered worlds easier.

       Of course, the better known and understood these tactics are, the more difficult they are to work. The rest of the Universe has had at least 20,000 examples by now. Of course, the operative word is "More Difficult", not impossible. Communist movements successfully made inroads well into the sixties and early seventies, some forty or fifty years after their methods were identified and understood. The Catholic and Scientological churches have continued with the same sets of methods for most of their history.

       What's interesting is that by the time of IWHS this strategy appears to be working against the Divine Order. The Order is plagued by heretics, who seem at least to have at least partially infiltrated the Divine Order.

       Which leads us to some interesting questions about the Heretics: Where do they come from? Are they within the Divine Order? Or are they an outside force? What is their relationship to the Divine Order? And to the rest of the Universe?

       First, it appears that the Heretics refer to themselves as Heretics. They are adopting the Divine Orders language for them. This suggests that as a cultural group, they're closely tied to the Divine Order, or they're so amorphous a group that they have no common identity. Or possibly both.

       What do we know about the Heretics?

      1) They've erected fortifications, referred to in IWHS, at Erica, and to protect a hundred worlds (neither of which worked well) (references, IWHS, Stan's Trial)
      2) They've maintained a military command structure, and spaceships, of which Tweedle was a part.
      3) They dominate, or held power on hundreds of worlds. Obviously, there were the hundred that were incinerated when Stan was captured, and it was a major disaster for the Heretics. But it didn't wipe them out, which suggests that there are hundreds more Heretic worlds. They also had enough resources to spend millions of lives on Erica for the sake of two code technicians with the Lexx key.

       All of which suggests that the Heretics constitute an organized political/military force consisting of a coalition of worlds, which have either broken away from the Divine Order, or which have united to resist expansion by the Divine Order.

      4) They somehow managed to acquire from Brizon, plans or amino acids necessary for the Lexx.
      5) They were able to create/recreate the Lexx's Key.
      6) They seem to have had fairly accurate information as to what the Lexx was, what it did, and even where it was located and how close it was to completion.
      7) They were able to infiltrate Thodin and a band of followers into the Cluster, close enough to get to the Lexx, and to enable him with the bugbomb, a tool designed to seek out his circuit and release him.
      8) They were able to attempt to stop the Gigashadow, through Yottskry and his cohort.

       Was Yottskry a heretic? Possibly not through his life. But he wasn't a lone loon, but acting in concert with a fellow cleric. That suggests some greater degree of organization may have been involved. I would tend to think that because he wasn't acting alone, Yottskry was either a heretic or was subverted by heretics. Either of which suggests that the Heretic organization had penetrated pretty highly into the Divine Order.

       Overall, we have a lot of evidence that the Heretics represented internal subversion, as well as an external threat. When His Shadow communes with his predecessors, the question that they ask themselves are how to determine which worlds to destroy, which worlds are so rotten with heretics as to merit destruction. As in Vietnam, they can't seem to distinguish the enemy.

       As a side note, His Shadow's answer to this question, "all of them," simply grows more chilling in hindsight. At first, I simply took this answer to mean all of the Heretics worlds, rather than just examples. But in hindsight, the more truthful answers may be "all of them" every world where a heretic taint is suspected.... Equivalent to destroying every village in Vietnam that the Vietcong were suspected to be in. Or, perhaps from the insects' perspective, "all of them" more truthfully means every single world of humans.

       How was it that a Heretic movement was able to infiltrate the Divine Order? There are two possible sources.
       One is that in taking over worlds, the Divine Order may simply have suppressed, but not eliminated local sects, cults, religions and philosophies. These may simply have gone underground, and some may have begun to worm their way into local chapters of the order.

       The other may have something to do with the longevity of His Divine Shadow. The Divine Order was an institution that lasted ten times as long as the Catholic Church, with a far greater range of influence. By rights, it should have experienced dozens of schisms and reform movements. However, the Divine Order was always helmed by a living god, a ruthless autocrat. Martin Luther might challenge the Pope, but no Christian sect challenged Christ and a living Christ was essentially what His Shadow was to his faith. No reform or schismatic movement could survive or succeed, it would simply be crushed.

       Nevertheless, the social and economic forces, including the decadence or degeneration of the church itself over time, and the ossification of its structures, would tend to create movements within the Divine Order. Without these movements being allowed free expression, a natural tendency might be to drive them underground and make them into a covert, subversive movement. As a general rule, dissents which are not allowed to be articulated in accepted channels, will often build up until they break out into full fledged rebellion or a subversive movement.

       It's possible that the internal Heretics may have been b enough in some areas to seize control and break away from the central government, as the Czechoslovaks and Hungarians attempted to do with regard to the Soviet Empire, or as the Albanians and Chinese actually accomplished. Such actions and such movements may have left the Divine Order quite uncertain as to how many planets it did control, and quite concerned about subversive movements on planets where it was in power. Such breakaway movements would have quite a lot of support from other heretic movements within the rest of the Divine Order's realm.

       Alternately, Heretics may have found common cause with those worlds attempting to resist takeover, or been philosophically opposed to such takeovers. In those cases, internal and external heretics might have had a great deal of room for common cause.

       At eight to fifteen thousand years, the Divine Order may well have been long overdue for such a movement, or may have wrestled with such movements periodically. It may well have been that by this time, the Divine Order was well past its peak and was in a period of degeneration and decadence. Is there any sign of this?

       Some. Remember our Piemaker? Let's take another look at him again. (One of the problems of this exercise, of course, is that the evidence of the nature and operations of the Divine Order is so slim that not only is a great deal of speculation invited, but that the same pieces of information may be used to support interpretations not necessarily in agreement with each other.

       It's hard to demonstrably establish what is a decaying or decadent society. Many of our signposts are cliches, which when we examine history carefully, apply to too many societies we might think of as [otherwise] healthy.

       But let me just make some assertions: A decaying or decadent society is one which tends to turn inwards, putting internal concerns over real issues. The Nazis, as they were losing the war, began to put more and more effort into eliminating the Jews, in military terms a meaningless action, and to "conquering" states which were already allied to them.

       Concerns increasingly focus on cultural or ideological purity, being or maintaining the right sort of people. Generally, power becomes increasingly centralized, and channels or means of input grow fewer, the state is less democratic and less inclusive. Bureaucracy grows all out of proportion. Turning inward, unable to grow outward, the state and statelike apparatuses become the focus of growth, until the bureaucratic apparatus dominates social life. The magnitude of bureaucracy can contribute to a general economic decline which may be in place as a result of changing technology, declining population or other factors.

       Because of the centralized and centralizing bureaucratic nature of the decadent or declining state, the tendency is to reach for grandiose projects: Giant statues, pyramids, great walls across Asia, that sort of thing. The tendency may also be to reach for military solutions, and short term fixes to compensate for declining economic or social clout.

       As the decaying empire turns increasingly inward, less and less permanent investment is made on peripheries. The state finds outlying areas breaking away, or barbarians becoming aggressive on the borders.

       What do we have with the Divine Order? We have a monstrously old regime, with a large religious bureaucracy. A bureacracy that, if we go by the Piemaker in IWHS is grown too large and hungry. We also have a full fledged Heretics movement at the borders. And we have a grandiose megaproject, the Lexx, as well as what seems to be a military oriented society.

       It may well have been that at the time in question, the Divine Order and League of 20,000 planets was going through a period of decay, either the beginnings of the end, or part of a cyclic history for the Order.

       If the Divine Order was in decay at the time of the Lexx, this may have put a different framework on the proceedings. The timetable of the Divine Shadow may have been accelerated. The effort may have been a savage quest to hold things together long enough for the cleansing and the rebirth.

       What was life like in the Divine Order?
       Well, probably not fun. The Divine Order was essentially a religious dictatorship. Orders and direction came from the top down, without a lot of room for grass roots power. So, in all likelihood, things like civil liberties and quality of life was not a priority. From what we see of Stan's living quarters, and the mode of dress, it would seem that the operative byword was efficiency. People were basically slaves, to be housed, fed and clothed as cheaply as possible.

       It's clear that even relatively minor offences were punishable by death, and quite possibly penalties were imposed arbitrarily. Offenders were shipped to the Cluster, with guilt more or less assured. Tax evasion, and disrespecting husbands, failing to perform wifely duties, were termination quality offences, which suggests no meaningful freedom. Any dissent, including not showing up for punishment, was not tolerated.

       In addition to automatic formal offences, "ie written rules" it appears that punishments or penalties could be issued on a discretionary basis by higher officers. As happened to Stan.

       Society, or at least society on the Cluster, was dominated by the military, and the focus seems to be on huge infrastructure. Giant spaceships, giant coliseums, etc.

       Throw in ceaseless propaganda, a political/cultural/economic life thoroughly entwined with and dominated by the Order, and a society which literally encourages the ber to prey on the weaker (husbands with literally life or death power over wives, officers with the same power over underlings), and it sounds thoroughly nasty.

       How did the Divine Order survive and prosper? Obviously, through the ruthless application of absolute and intolerant force at every level. Partially by co-opting classes or groups by offering the opportunity to oppress and tyrannize those below. Partially by offering absolute security and stability to its slaves. Life might not be much, under the Divine Order, but at least you knew where you stood and could count on getting fed, getting clothed, getting laid and having a place to sleep.

       Mind you, if the Divine Order was still seriously involved in missionary establishments, I think the standards of living offered out on the fringes of the Order would be considerably higher. There's no merit in treating people like slaves if you're trying to convert them. They'd try to make things as attractive as possible, at least at the outset, and they'd probably build most of the infrastructure immediately before or after takeover.

       On newly conquered or assimilated worlds, the Divine Order loyalists would probably live pretty good. Those not a part of the Order would probably have a pretty tough time. We can assume a death penalty for breathing too loud for those people.

       I'd definitely say the Order was a [nasty!] piece of work. Glad they're gone.

       Thoughts on the Divine Order and the Heretics... I was watching the Trial of Stan, and I was struck by the visual resemblance between this group of Heretics and the Divine Order. The uniforms and robes, even the helmets, seemed similar to the Divine Order's. Not really identical, but similar in style and coloration. Their 'devotions' were also similar, the ritual obeisance "his shadow"/"lost souls", even the judge resembled his counterpart in Thodin's trial. Their description of the destroyed worlds was also interesting "reform planets."

       This suggests that rather than being an independent culture, at least some of the Heretics appeared to be a reformist faction of the Divine Order.

       Also, take note of Stan's uniform when he was a Heretic, as well as the costuming of Thodin. Both Stan and Thodin were identified as Ostral B. There's a good inference to be made that the Ostral B represented a different culture than the Reformists.

       This may suggest that the Heretics were actually a melange of various resistance, reformist groups. A loose coalition, rather than a monolithic empire.

       Also, this suggests that Stan's role as an archtraitor may have played a role in political struggles within the Heretic movement between the Reformers and the Ostral B. The continuing obsession with Stan of the Reformers may have been in part political theatre. (Not that they didn't have cause to be upset, of course...)

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