The Quondam Imperium is a historical document that has chronicled the Karg Ascendancy’s mythic narrative of its own history for over a thousand years. It has created a narrative that puts the far more ordinary idea of the M-Ph progenitors, relevant though they might be, to shame. The prestigious Karg Objectivity Committee is in charge of issuing revisions and additions every five years to keep the poem up to date with the most recent understandings of the Ascendancy’s history.
The Quondam Imperium is an epic poem whose history stretches to the vividly described pre-civilization of the Karg Ascendancy’s home planet. It describes the progression of Karg society through repeated diasporas and reunions across improbable interstellar distances, often intertwined with the epic cultural struggle to return society to the multidimensional Karg Imperial Authority, which will be the final re-joining of the Ascendancy’s peoples, answering the Great Question (A-D) “Are we truly alone?” with an emphatic, dogmatic “No.”
The QI is rigidly access controlled, and it is illegal to own a local copy, though the source may be referenced through legally regulated terminals, and public performances are a weekly event through the five-year cycle. The authoritative copy is enshrined in a database that is transcribed and illuminated by a brotherhood of seven monks who dedicate their careers to ornamenting the truth.
Superseded versions are ritually destroyed. The current market rate for archival QI pages would require the combined GDPs of several modern planets.
The number seven is fundamental to the social structures of the Ascendancy, and the Objectivity Committee consists of seven officers who serve on ten-year terms, who thus each manage two revisions in their tenure. It is said that the short terms help to encourage the appropriate evolution of the document’s underpinnings. Six subcommittees of seven people each are formed as necessary and charged with fine-tuning the phrasing or, at times, expanding on the authoritative events described by new historical discoveries.
file: diff comparison, issues 1947ACC-1967ACD
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In addition to the above factually incompatible difference files there remains the question that has bedeviled scholars, namely, that the development of life and civilization on Karg has been by and large straightforward and untroubled by major setbacks in its entirety. Academics are reluctant to die on that particular hill, and so the QI maintains its place in the popular consciousness: the grandeur of the past and richly nationalist reach toward the future remain untarnished.
It is worth noting that every edit to the QI is annotated with the name of the contributing authors. Thus, the entire evolution of the document (not counting deletions) is more or less available to the determined scholar.
The Quondam Imperium is accepted as gospel among the Karg Ascendancy, and stiff civil penalties are assessed for any public criticism of the document. Generally speaking a majority of the population enjoys any new particular twists, turns, coincidences, and dramatic ironies revealed in each edit.
The Frellig Stanza
There exists a 3400-word stanza in the middle of an historic battle against enemies of the Karg Imperial Authority that is not annotated with any author identification. It concerns the adventures of a young Karg who invents a spacefaring vessel, becomes initiated to the Karg Imperial Authority as a Super Forty-Nine Star Captain, and crushes the Doodieds, a mysterious race that is not alluded to anywhere else in the QI. This passage has survived because no one wants to be responsible for having deleted it if it turns out to have been important.
Stuffing the Committee
The question of objective truth, which is the only question the Committee is documented to be concerned with, is a contentious issue dogged by a vicious history of politicking. Doctrine is usually a matter of a plurality vote on the Committee, which is why it shook the very foundations of the culture when Archon Vylix decreed the committee would take six additional members, thereby breaking the rule of seven while mimicking the mathematical base thirteen of their numeric system. Subcommittees were instantly formulated to drown out the newcomers’ votes, and the QI in that epoch added a brightly embroidered story about the treachery of the disgraced Archon and his six chosen traitors. At the next interval, only seven were appointed to the Committee.
The Karg Imperial Authority
One mystery peculiar to these efforts is the true identity of the Karg Imperial Authority, the multidimensional order to which the Ascendancy will someday return. It has existed in expanding and largely unamended form since the earliest editions. The mutual dependency of the Authority across two or more domains (of which only one is accessible to mere mortals) is reminiscent of the pairing of Dolphin Riders – the whole becomes more than the sum of dimension-locked individuals. Returning to the arms of the Authority is predicted to be an ecstatic clearing of the figurative slate, when the final form of the QI will become clear to those who have read and watched it from birth.