Spheriers

Sphere masters

To know my story, you must first know what truly are spheriers, and what it implies to be a talented one. I am not bragging, in fact, I would probably have been happier being an average spherier, which still requires a certain talent on my home Sphere of Oblogga. Before founding the Seekers, I was part of the highest caste of the spheria, a Hollene spherier. Oh, you are not familiar with the term? Let me start from the beginning then.
— Hollene, Anhvall's skipper
 

Spheriers are a keystone of civilization in the Expanse. They are the only ones able to subdue the incredible Spheres and impose their will. Driving the giant beings across the vast world, their uniqueness and the power they hold give them a say in most important decisions.

 

Gifted ones


 

Among every species except for a few, some individuals possess a spiritual power far beyond ordinary people. These individuals are called higher minds. It is not about one's intelligence or wits, rather it is their capacity to impose their will and resists mental strain. For most of them, it is an ancestral quirk inherited through the blood of their great lineage. The purest lineages only hatch higher minds, giving them a high standing on the social ladder. They can also emerge from the common folk randomly, sparking a new lineage given the capacities are well-used.

I was born a Hollene, this is something I can't hide no matter how much I alter my signature. The lineage possesses countless branches, and mine was of medium standing at best. Still, my parents and siblings were equally gifted of a higher mind, as any Hollene since the rise of our lineage. Each cycle, three to five of us were chosen to study the mind and become spheriers, I just happened to be with the lucky few.
— Hollene, Anhvall's skipper
 

Sphere Taming

 

The power of higher minds, however powerful it may be, is no good without proper training. The archaic civilization from before the apocalypse established the basis to train one's mind in order to interact with Spheres. The mind of a Sphere is a dangerous place, like a bottomless pit swallowing everything in its reach. Even the most renowned higher minds can get overwhelmed and drowned in the flood of dark thoughts that fills a Sphere's mind. And so, spherier apprentices undergo cycles of study and exercise to strengthen their mind and sharpen their will before even interacting with a Sphere.

Every day we were assaulted by a spherier trying to take control of our minds. To say it was drastic is an understatement. It could happen at any time, especially when we would lower our guard. If the spherier succeeded, he would tell us to kill ourselves by diving into The Expanse with our bare bodies. And they would not stop. If you were not able to resist this kind of suggestion, then you were not fit to be a Hollene and the lineage had no use for burdens. We were three dozen when we started the training. By the time we interacted with a skip for the first time, only five of us were left.
— Hollene, Anhvall's skipper
 

The details, duration and roughness of the training differ from Spheres and schools, but the basics are ancestral and never changed. Mind resistance is the most important principle. Since it is way harder to dictate one's action than to ignore such orders, even a novice should be able to shield themselves from the mind attacks of a master of the trade before even trying to communicate with other beings. More than a mere guideline, this requirement is absolute. No one wants to see the birth of another Krkklia.

 

Once the trainees' minds are robust enough, they enter the mind of a skip with an instructor. Skips have juvenile and light minds that make intrusion easy even for inexperienced students. Nonetheless, the structure of their mind is very much like an undeveloped Sphere's one. The trainees are to familiarize themselves with the environment and the inquisitive thoughts of the skip. Then, they have to work together to take control of the creature. A skipper is more than enough to have full control over the skip used for training and it is relatively harmless, but the idea behind the group work is to train the esprit de corps of the future spheriers, who will need it more than anything.

 

The last part of the training is usually the hardest one. Only the elite is allowed to penetrate the mind of a Sphere, and this is for a reason. It is nothing like a skip's, much darker and complex. So complex in fact those who try to take the full measure of it end up maddened by the implication of what they come to understand. At this point, so many resources have been invested in the spheriers in the making that failsafe procedures are recommended. The first time, they should only observe and try to resist the pressure they are under. Then they would approach the Sphere's mind in itself, slowly getting used to it until they are confident enough to stand on their own.

 
Us five were an especially good breed according to our trainers. Only a quarter of our lives has passed and we were ready to be fully-fledged spheriers. I never mentioned how I helped my fellow trainees, afraid that it would put them in a delicate situation. But the mind, you see, was something I always have been familiar to. By twisting the right notch, it was possible to unlock one's hidden potential that would take cycles to develop. Looking back, I discovered a technique to produce skilled spheriers in a breath. But at the time I did not think much of it. I did not want to stand out so much and elevated my classmates to this egoistic idea. And even then, I disliked intruding their mind and altering their thoughts.
— Hollene, Anhvall's skipper
 

At the end of their training, spheriers are often already halfway through their life. This could be considered a waste of time, especially considering the time they spent without even doing spherier work, but security comes at this price. Their security, but first and foremost the safety of the people who depends on them. Spheriers have no room for failure, and the slightest mistake could end the lives of thousands. Hence most Spheres have way more than enough spheriers to control the Spheres, in order to avoid the grim consequences of one failure.

 

Core of the trade

 

As strange as it may sound, spheriers are not actively controlling their Spheres most of the time. Doing so requires an enormous amount of energy and awareness, especially on the greatest ones. If spheriers were applying full control over the Sphere at all times, they would exhaust themselves and burn out in a tenth of a cycle. Furthermore, Spheres themselves are not active for the greater part of their lives and let the currents carry them. Thus, spheriers merely refrain their vehicle from going somewhere on its own.

 

When the time commands it, they set the Sphere in motion at the cost of a terrible effort. The biggest and most complex ones require the joint effort of dozens of spheriers who will unite their minds to bend the majestuous critter's will. In this case, each one play a separate role, who diving deep into the Sphere's conscience, who tightening the links between the minds, who weakening their target's resistance. To succeed, they all have to be perfectly coordinated and share the same goal, so as to not tear the Sphere with two contradictory orders. One of them has to shoot the calls.

 
I passed the last test with flying colours. It seemed I had an innate talent for mind connections. Maybe they were right, none of my classmates managed to reach my level. I began to shut myself in the mind ducts and tried to be the best spherier I could to make my lineage proud. After a while, I learned that I was next in line to the position of the master spherier of the Hollene.
— Hollene, Anhvall's skipper
by pxfuel

On the edge

 

Spheriers play a dangerous game, treading with a mind far greater than them. Even when they don't fall prey to the dark thoughts of the Sphere, simply reaching its psyche is enough to corrode them insidiously. The longer they stay on the tight edge of the beast's spirit, the more they slip on the slope of madness. It is not a rare event for a spherier to completely give in and abandon themselves to the Sphere's dementia.

 

Skill forged through hardships

 

The most talented spheriers come without a doubt from the Sphere of Vnloohvk. Although the Sphere itself is rather small, its mind is so intricate that ordinary spheriers might get lost instantly the moment they approach it. This Sphere is an anomaly that forced its inhabitants to adapt to the harsh mental environment. Even its offspring are mentally challenging, making the training of spherier an almost impossible feat. As a result, the few that survive the trials are the most skilled in the whole Expanse, making even the best Hollene paling in comparison.

by wombo AI
 
 

Master Spheriers

 

On each Sphere, at least one spherier stands above the others. Of unparalleled skill, they are the best among the best. The title comes from their mastery over the mind, be it theirs or the Sphere's. Their role is to coordinate all spheriers towards a unique goal. They connect the whole spherier corp and must thus be able to take the colossal pressure that comes with the burden. It is also they who go the deepest in the Sphere's spirit and give their living vehicle the orders. Small Spheres do well with only one master spherier or not any in the case of the smaller ones, but the bigger require more as even the most talented individual cannot take on a load of a Sphere like Oblogga alone.

 

The talent required to reach this rank is so great that there is no turnover except at the death of the previous master or when a real prodigy shows up. The process of selection is kept secret by the spheriers, but it is definitely a contest of mental prowess and not an election of any kind. When there is more than one master spherier, the remaining ones can appoint the successor of their deceased partner.

 
 

Privileges

 

Without spheriers, life would not have been able to be sustainable in the Expanse, and all civilizations would have collapsed. Their prominent place at the top of the social hierarchy of many Sphere comes then as no surprise. For once, they have privileged access to the shell of the Sphere, living in the mind ducts or reserved rooms. Depending on the Sphere, only spheriers may be allowed to rest inside the shell or some high-standing individuals can share this honour. They are given the best and most expensive food and are basically free to do everything they want as long as they fulfil their duty.

 

In every spheria except for a few, spheriers are an integral part of the rulers. When it takes the form of a council, it is common to see about half of the seats taken by spheriers. Since they are sometimes too busy or numerous for all to participate, they elect envoys who will speak for them in front of the other counsellors, who may then be priests, scholars or representatives of great lineages. In some, especially the smaller spherias, the spheriers are the ruling caste, sharing this power with no others.

 

The greatest privilege

 

In cultures where collectivity always prime for the greater good, individuals are rarely remembered. Even trying to get recognized as a person and not a group is badly considered. Only a handful of people have ever managed to get noticed for their accomplishments Expanse-wide. Akkhlorn or the Revealer are two such persons. Every spheriers, except for the consortiums crabs, are granted the highest honour of having their persona recorded by a Memory and passed on to future generations. Not all make use of this proposition, but this alone puts them far higher than anyone else in any society.


 
I can't say I did not enjoy what came with the job. My own room and food I had never dreamt of even in the most prestigious lineage of Oblogga. But at that time, I was indoctrinated with lineage devotion and I did not seek to leave a mark for myself. When I was proposed to enter the Great Game, I went in with the conviction I will be doing it for the sake of the Hollene. Though I never liked it, my talent extended to the manipulation of others' minds. This is what the Game is about, by the way. Politics is but a fancy term to designate an eel's nest where everyone tries to eat the next person. I quickly became so good at it that only the experts in the field were able to best me.
— Hollene, Anhvall's skipper
 

The Great Game

 

As high standing as they are, spheriers are often untrained in the ways of politics. While they have first-rate insight into the well-being of their Sphere, their opinion on worldly matters is not of the same level. Since most are from a prestigious lineage, they often act like puppets for the agenda of their family. Independent spheriers have more free will but are crushed under the pressure of their peers.

 

Spheriers remain an invaluable asset to whichever party they side with. The mind of a Sphere is leagues away from this of any individual, even higher minds. Some of them trained their skills in the idea of altering the choices of people. If lesser minds are easy prey to their tricks, representatives of great lineages are often taught how to resist mental commands.

Intruding a higher mind is forbidden and the rules don't prevent spheriers from retaliation, in theory. In practice, such measures are rarely enforced even in the case of blatant manipulation, but common sense dictates spheriers to be as subtle as possible.

by wombo AI
 

Of course, there is barely a meeting where spheriers do not make use of their superior abilities, and nobody is fooled. The game has gone from knowing if a spherier is forcing someone to do their bidings, to knowing who is controlling who. This is especially true in councils where spheriers make only half of the counselors like in Oblogga or Oppollln. As an implicit rule, a spherier never tries to influence another of their fellows. Not only this is harder than with any regular counsellor, but if the target detects the tentative, it may escalate into a mental battle between the two opponents and they never end up well. Too many excellent spheriers were lost during the time this barbaric practice was the way to settle the score before champion showdowns.

 
 
 

I was at one of the highest positions any Obloggian could ever dream of. A cycle or two, and I would have been a master spherier. But I quit. Quitting is not something you can do, mind you. Spherier is a role for life. They have too much sensitive information to let loose outside of where they can be easily controlled. Once they enter the Great Game, it only worsens. I did not mind at first, but when I got into the council, I learned things for the first time in my life. Not know-how, actual knowledge, forbidden and kept locked deep in a few Memories.

 

There are things I cannot tell, others I already did. Anhvall is one of them. I used my abilities to extract information from those in the know, at first for my lineage, then from it. I hated it every single time, but I hated even more the ignorance I've been living with since birth. When an old friend came to me with this dream of his to unveil all that was kept from the common folk, I followed him. today, I doubt it. I'm not sure I made the right choice. Back then, there was not an ounce of hesitation. I took over Anhvall and left away my brilliant role as a spherier to become a mere skipper. To anyone else, I bet it would have been seen as a humiliation, but most of all I was relieved to be free of my lineage finally.

— Hollene, Anhvall's skipper

Skippers are not spheriers

 

It is a common misconception, but the two trades are actually quite different. If a spherier can become a skipper at any time, the opposite is not true, and they consider it a lowly task. To them, a skip is so much easier to control than a Sphere that skippers have nothing they lack. This is not entirely true, as skippers have to keep a sharp eye on their environment, as well as monitor sensors. Nonetheless, skippers are often failed spheriers, those who did not make it to the end of the training but survived, or higher minds who had not the willpower to take said training. On rare occasions, talented lesser minds can become skippers, if the skip is young and docile enough. If they have no potential they often end up quitting or driven mad, but when they do, it can spark what they need to awaken their higher mind.

 
by Jean Wimmerlin
 
 

The Obloggian Perspective

 

Our spheriers, yes. The pride of our Sphere! To tame a Sphere like Oblogga is no small feat. With a mind so deep near a hundred of our spheriers must work together, where thousands of Oppollln's would be needed. This is due to a strict and efficient organization. The Hollene lineage is one of the greatest of the Expanse in terms of spheriers, and the Tkktskr consortium is the only one working pincher in tentacles with a lineage thanks to the links woven by the third but not least lineage, Milloln. The three of them have absolute control over the Sphere, and accidents are not even a consideration. No one else than we can boast about having five master spheriers even though only two are required. This means our most valuable assets are never exhausted.

To be honest, we only have four of them right now. It's a long story. While they are not on duty, the other two masters are involved with the Council, especially with foreign affairs. Having two individuals so skilled at the head of our diplomacy ensures we always get the most desirable outcome. Sure, the spheriers of Vnloohvk are outstanding, and beyond most of ours. Still, their own Sphere cannot sustain their own elites, who end up in Spheres that can provide them with a more than decent lifestyle. Which is, most of the time, Oblogga. I've heard their integration is sometimes difficult. As impressive as they are, they cannot beat our master spheriers who are in a different league. They still make fine additions to the Hollene or Milloln lineages.



Cover image: Deep Terror by バシウス (Bacius9)

Comments

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Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
16 Jul, 2022 21:34

Great article! It was fascinating to learn more about Hollene :D

To see what I am up to, here is my civilisation challenge article.
27 Jul, 2022 18:31

Great article! I can see why the are so well regarded, must be quite a demanding job however.

Feel free to check out my latest challenge article the Avaronian Empire if you want to see what I am up to!
4 Aug, 2022 08:12

I was kind of surprised to see the people actually tried to tame and control the one hell of resistant sphere. Yet alone let it make offsprings. What surprised me, was that its existence was not seen as a threat to the others. The scenario I had in mind, was that this "mutation" that made the sphere so tough to control should not be allowed to spread. Because if it spread, it may have made the living in the future considerably and needlessly harder.   Other than that, I got a good idea about the hardship of spheriers, from head to toe!