- "Large red eyes turned my way and I found myself hypnotized by the dance of light within the multifaceted prisms there: not merely reflected light but a fierce, blood-bright glow which seemed to burn within the creature's barbed skull and pulse in the terrible gems set where God meant eyes to be."
- ―from the journal of Father Paul Dure[src]
The Shrike, also known as the Lord of Pain, Avatar, Angel of Final Atonement, Angel of Retribution or Angel of Retribution from Beyond Time, was a legendary and seemingly indestructible being of incredible power and strength, and of dauntingly imposing appearance, who was created in humanity's far future and sent back in time through the Time Tombs.
The nature of the Shrike's origin was indefinite due to the nature of time itself. According to Ummon, the future was fluid, constantly changing based on "current" events. As such, exactly who created the Shrike in the future was indeterminate.
It was once thought that the TechnoCore's Ultimate Intelligence was responsible with it's creation, and Ummon of the Core called it "half-perceived perceptions of an all-too-real extension of our UI", backing this up, but according to Aenea, at some point approximately twelve thousand years after the "current" time, after he fought the Shrike in the far future, the faction of the TechnoCore known as the Reapers used the violent and soldier aspects of Fedmahn Kassad's personality and DNA, then mutate, twist, and incorporate them into forging the Shrike.The creature did not hold any specific motive of its own, but was more of a pawn, designced to act as the Avatar of the Lions and Tigers and Bears, the TechnoCore Ultimate Intelligence and the Human Ultimate Intelligence at different times and for different purposes.
The Shrike derived its moniker from the family of Old Earth birds of the same name, which ewre known for impaling their prey on the thorns of trees. Much like its namesake, the Shrike had a tree for its victims: a vast, artificial tree-like armature made of a substance resembling chrome steel and studded with three-meter-long thorns, which was known as The Tree of Pain. When the Shrike chose to impale victims on the thorns, they would not die, but rather continue living while experiencing the full physical pain of impalement. Countless individuals - possibly numbering in the thousands or millions - had been taken by the Shrike and impaled on this tree.
The presence of the Shrike on Hyperion was the starting point of some religious changes in the Hegemony. The Church of the Final Atonement was based around the reverence of the Shrike, which they called the "Avatar" and the "Lord of Pain". The Shrike Church, as it was also known, gained more and more followers, but by the time the Hyperion system was attacked by the TechnoCore disguised as Ousters, riots started against the Church, their temples on Hyperion were destroyed and their priests persecuted. After the attacks against the WorldWeb, the popularity of the Church had risen again; people saw the war as punishment against humankind.
During his expedition to Hyperion to study the Bikura, Father Paul Duré of the Catholic Church encountered the Shrike in the planet's labyrinths. While fighting Ousters on Hyperion, Colonel Fedmahn Kassad encountered Moneta, a woman who he had previously known only from battle simulations during his training and developed a romantic relationship with. While they made love on the battlefield, Moneta apparently transformed into the Shrike, nearly killing Kassad.
After moving to Hyperion with his patron, Sad King Billy, Martin Silenus seemingly brought the wrath of the Shrike on the population of the City of Poets while he worked on his epic Hyperion Cantos. The Shrike gruesomely killed numerous civilians in the area, causing the city to be evacuated. Believing that Martin's work had somehow summoned the monster, Billy attempted to burn the manuscript of the Cantos, only for the Shrike to appear and take Billy away to its Tree of Pain.
Rachel Weintraub, an archaeologist studying the Time Tombs on Hyperion, encountered the Shrike during a temporal anomaly inside the Sphinx. When she was recovered following the event, she was found to have contracted a inexplicable condition labeled "Merlin Sickness": her body was now aging in reverse, and with each passing day, a day's worth of her memories would be erased. Her father, Sol Weintraub, traveled across the galaxy with his daughter to find a cure for her condition.
Not only did the Church of the Final Atonement see the arrival of the Shrike as retribution against mankind, the Templar Brotherhood also did. The True Voice of the Worldtree Sek Hardeen shared in the opinion and sent Het Masteen to the last pilgrimage on Hyperion with an erg to pilot the Tree of Pain as a Treeship.
Final Shrike Pilgrimage
During the Fall of the Hegemony, Brawne Lamia entered the Shrike Palace and was transported to the same time as the Shrike's victims stored within the Palace. As Brawne attempted to rescue Martin Silenus, the Shrike appeared and confronted Brawne. Brawne, through abilties that she nor anyone else knew existed, was then able to apparently destroy the Shrike by turning it into a crystalline form and shattering it.
While the Shrike was destroyed by Brawne Lamia, its time-traveling abilities meant that this did not necessarily preclude it from appearing at some future time or place in the galaxy. Indeed, the Shrike would play a central role in galactic events over 300 years later.
After the Fall of the Hegemony of Man, the Shrike did not make an appearance for over three centuries. It finally reappeared when Aenea arrived in the present through the Sphinx's portal from the past, defending her against the Pax forces that had been preparing to apprehend her.
The Shrike appeared again on God's Grove when Aenea and Raul Endymion farcasted there from Qom-Riyadh. It then engaged Rhadamanth Nemes in single combat during her attempt to kill Aenea. The two combatants were fairly evenly matched, but the Shrike was removed from the fight when Nemes used a "sphinx card" - a temporal displacement device engineered by the TechnoCore - to shift the Shrike into the future for a span of five minutes.
One of the Shrike's final appearance is during the funeral for Martin Silenius on Old Earth, where it remains like a statue standing as a sentry over the grave site.
The Shrike was a roughly humanoid entity three meters in height, with a carapace made entirely of a metal resembling chrome steel. It had four arms, with the lower pair being slightly shorter than the upper pair, and four hands tipped with scalpel-like fingerblades. Its body was covered with an array of blades and thorns, including a large curved thorn on its chest, a curving blade on its forehead, another higher up on its head, and rosettes of thorns around its limb joints. Its eyes were multi-faceted and gave off a vivid red glow, and its mouth contained multiple rows of sharp metal teeth. The creature was feared among the citizens of Hyperion, where it lived during the time of the Hegemony.
The Shrike travelled through The Void Which Binds. It used the Void to perform true farcasting through space and time - which was accomplished by merging with the Void (similar to Aenea's freecasting) instead of tearing it (similar to the way farcasters work). It was therefore capable of vanishing and reappearing instantly anywhere and at any point in time, although for most of its recorded existence it did not do so outside of a small territory on the planet Hyperion. It waws also capable of movement in fast time, which enabled it to slaughter or capture its victims before they could resist. Often the Shrike attacked so quickly that it could be seen, or appeared to be in multiple places simultaneously.
Its time-traveling abilities notwithstanding, the Shrike was a formidable combatant. Its many thorns and blades allowed it to effortlessly eviscerate and dismember virtually any opponent, and it often chose to do so in an extremely gruesome and painful manner. It was also nearly invulnerable to damage: conventional weapons had absolutely no effect on the creature, and it could even withstand being submerged in molten rock. The only instances where the Shrike was known to have taken damage are when it was fought by Fedmahn Kassad, when its carapace was damaged by Rhadamanth Nemes, and when it was apparently finally destroyed by Brawne Lamia.
One of the Shrike's most terrifying abilities - at least to the Catholic Church during the Pax Era - was its ability to remove a cruciform from the body of its host, thereby preventing the host from being resurrected. This was widely believed to be impossible, as the cruciforms extended tendrils throughout their hosts' entire bodies and would re-constitute their host as long as even a tiny amount of cruciform material and host tissue remains. When removed by the Shrike, however, these tendrils withered and disappeared, leaving the host without any trace of cruciform left in their body.
- The Fall of Hyperion
- The Rise of Endymion