By Dennis Detwiller, © 2012
Shape without form, shade without colour, Paralysed force, gesture without motion…
—T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men
The Great Race of Yith has long architected the comings and goings of human history and beyond. Their minds have raced through the corridors of time, flung into creatures malign, indifferent and struggling, to steward and shape a future they could escape to, when the dreadful Flying Polyps overwhelm their prehistoric civilization.
This is a ceaseless task. The timeline is a precarious tower of choices which is forever toppling, and requires thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of corrections to keep it on track to the Colepterous future they conspire to flee to when the time comes. The human epoch is simply a blip in the midst of the vast timeline the Yithians police, but humans offer a ready vessel for the vast and cool intellects of the Race.
The Great Race has long seeded the modern era with human servants — temporal coolies if you will — called the Motion. These people, to whom the Great Race has revealed but a fraction of their power and plans, have lost themselves in supplication to the powers beyond.
Occasionally, a Great Race Agent will be flung forward to the human epoch, to occupy a mind and carry out the inscrutable plans of the creatures. The huge minds of the Great Race cannot fit in the human vessel. Invariably some data is lost in the transfer. Great Race Agents inflict a debilitating and serious damage on their minds every time they enter a vessel with limited intellect. Still, those who return to the prehistoric time of the Race are repaired with their technology.
Sometimes, however, there are fatal mistakes: huge copy errors in the transfer, due to temporal disturbances, sun spots and worse. In these instances, more often than not, the human the Yithian was traveling into is wiped clean like a slate, and the Yithian is lost in the corridors of time. But sometimes, a portion of the alien consciousness is slammed into the human and the Yithian perishes in the transfer, leaving behind fragments of inhuman knowledge in a severely damaged human mind. These are the Hollow Men.
The Hollow Men have access to limited knowledge of the future (for invariably, the Yithian agent must have studied the nearby timeline) and access to the science and technology of the Yithians. They can create lightning guns, time gates and more. This knowledge is imperfect, as is the drive to use it. The Hollow Men are creatures set on an imperative with no clear goal — the need to complete a task consumes them, but due to the copy error, they have no idea what that task may be. Sometimes they are drawn to one another — particularly if multiple Yithian agents were to coordinate in the human epoch — and pool their efforts.
They tend to be drawn to profound events, elections, historical inventions, wars, in the hopes they might discover their purpose. To the outside world, they appear as lone madmen who have slipped a mental track, and have become obsessed with a single world event or person.
They are hunted by the Motion, and the Yithian agents, and represent some of the gravest threats to the timeline that exist. Their power and influence is so great, they have “destroyed” the forward progress of the Yithian’s chosen many, many times.