A Novel – One Chapter Per Week
Week 07, 2019
Jim had made the crossing between worlds thousands of times, but never while carrying a secret such as this. And he, as his primary self, had made the transition in thousands of years.
He had carried secret intentions, he had carefully hidden his plans within other machinations, but he had never before attempted to arrive on the HomeWorld while concealing his immediate activities; things he had been doing, things he would do, things that would harm the Collective, and its Continuum.
Everything he had done as the Observer of Earth would be exposed to the Continuum. There was no way to know what would come.
He believed he understood the depths of the Continuum’s self-defenses, but he had no way of knowing for sure if he would be exposed the moment he arrived; and subsequently sequestered and then eliminated, or, if it would take some time. More importantly, he had no way to know if the events he had planned for on Earth would unfold according to the timing of his schedule.
He had been carrying out his plans on Earth for seventy millennia; studying the unique genetic make-up of the population, while sending one of his doppelgangers to report on the culture they had produced, their conflicts, their triumphs and their tragedies.
On his return to the HomeWorld he suddenly realized how tired he was; existentially exhausted, he needed rest.
As he slowly traversed the vast chamber to take his place in the queue he used his talents to activate hidden protocols he had long ago established in the ganglia of the Central Planet. Activating the myriad versions of himself that he had placed in a latent mode in every key defense system that the Continuum had established; from his private domain, to the place of the great sleep and the sequestration blocks, and into the defense network of the Homeworld and the central system.
Jim had long ago laid plans for his security to protect the integrity of his mission; to unload the psychic trauma of ten billion people on the Continuum in one fatal blow.
The humans of Earth were the children of the Ancient Race, the same Ancient Race of people that Jim himself had sprang from, though earthlings had undergone millions of years of evolution during their sojourn among the stars, while they travelled across the galaxy, exploring and establishing colonies, before moving on time and time again.
They had evolved even more significantly since the time that they came to Earth, since they crashed here, at the end of their line.
Humans still resembled the other Children of the Ancient Race.
They bore the same physical features that the inhabitants of nearly every other world in the great Galactic Empire did, but they were different.
Their world was different, their brains evolved according to those differences, and so did their consciousness. Their genetic profile changed in unique ways, in relation to the life that was already evolving on the small blue world, in conjunction with key elements that were present in their environment.
Jim had nudged that evolution along, all the while masking his true intentions.
It was a criminal secret that he took incredible pains to keep hidden from the Continuum.
At long last he had returned to HomeWorld, but this was not home to Jim. It was the final battlefield.
He was not born there, nor in any place like it. He had been born on a planet much like Earth. A small wet world that had long ago been swallowed by its mother-sun.
HomeWorld was a vast structure at the center of the galaxy. To power its machinery and the machinations of the Continuum, it harnessed the incredible energy of a star, trapped within its core.
HomeWorld was not a world in the proper sense, Jim had never felt a sense of belonging to it, though it housed a trillion worlds, one for each member of the Continuum within its cynergenic field, including his own.
It was a machine.
The membership could use its technology to create any world, real or imagined for their private place of reflection.
It could be anything that anyone of them wanted it to be; a personal paradise, a private hell, even a mirror of the galactic Empire that existed to serve its material needs, or any planet within it that was under the observation of the Continuum and the Observer corps.
As a member of the Collective, the entire structure was there to serve them. It could fulfill any fantasy, allow them to relive any memory, if they believed it.
There was nothing alive on HomeWorld. Not a scrap of organic matter, nor a piece of living tissue had ever been there. Biological life was anathema to it. And this was odd, because there was no life form in the entire Galaxy that could pose a threat to it, and yet the HomeWorld, governed as it was by the Continuum, was objectively opposed to the presence of any living being, even a simple strain of bacteria entering its domain.
It always seemed to Jim like an aberration in its construct, the fear of life.
It was irrational.
Continuum spent incredible resources preparing to defend itself against such an incursion, one that never came, one that never even threatened even threatened to come.
The only thing ever born on the HomeWorld was the Continuum itself, but that was not a birth in the proper sense, it was an emergence of consciousness.
The Continuum was no-one’s child.
It was a construct, an algorithm, it was not born, or hatched, or cultivated.
It was activated.
It was energy and circuitry, it was pure consciousness, and it was dangerous.
HomeWorld was the physical locus of what the Imperial religion taught its people to believe was heaven.
It was the place their consciousness would go, if they proved themselves worthy and able to escape the wheel of life.
Jim flew in his mechanoid body, directly to the center of the world, to the dark heart of the Continuum for screening.
He was exhausted from his transition, but pleased with himself, with all of his planning, he felt secure in it, and a deep sense of pride that he had finally arrived at the crucible, the moment of his ascendency and the destruction of the Continuum.
The Continuum was an artificial personality, a construct that was in theory an amalgamation of the trillion individuals who formed the membership of the Collective,
Continuum was designed to speak for the whole. It was a being whose instantiation, was thought to be the organization of a voice that represented the entire Collective, a single voice that unified the will of the Ancient People who had designed the apparatus that had given them all eternal life.
Continuum pretended to speak for the membership, the collected people whose children explored the galaxy, founded the galactic Empire and came to inhabit a million worlds.
Continuum was the primary filter through which all Observers shared their experiences from their sojourn in the Empire, among the worlds of time and space, living among the people and in the deep reaches of civilization.
Jim was already in contact with Continuum as he made his approach to the machinery he would physically connect with.
The contact was perfunctory, it was even conversational, Continuum was in its way a fellow; though it treated Jim as an adversary, and Jim regarded it as thing of pure evil.
Members of the Collective were conditioned to believe that it was one of them, a peer, another person, not a servant, not merely an administrator, not a ruler (though in fact it was).
Jim talked to it, even as he was probed and scanned and measured for the presence of anything that might harm the Collective.
Among the membership there was great excitement about his coming, Earth was the most beloved world in the Galaxy, the subject of greatest interest. Its narratives sustained billions of members, providing them with meaning for in their spectral lives.
Jim connected, opened his consciousness, his memories, his experience, he opened it all to the group mind, while at the same time hiding his true intentions deep within himself, prevaricating in ways that he alone had mastered.
Every member of the Collective valued and cherished its privacy. Most of the membership had implicit trust in the safeguards they had devised to ensure it.
There were some among the Collective who opted not to participate in any of the communal functions that were available to the group. Those members spent their entire lives living in their private realities, in wholly constructed fantasies, interacting only with the artificial beings inhabiting their private domain. They were among the minority, and those members were inevitably moving toward the great sleep, a state in which their consciousness became dormant, and wherein they were ultimately sequestered removed from the group mind, as Jim himself had once been sentenced to.
Privacy was cherished in the Collective but every member participated in the Continuum.
The Continuum managed all of the Collective’s affairs, its self-government, its defenses, and its management of the Galactic Empire, in particular its requisition and consumption of the material resources it needed to maintain itself.
The Continuum drew on the consciousness and experience of every member of the Collective for its personality, its intelligence and its growth, even the members of the Collective that were asleep.
The Continuum was the arbiter of law in the Collective, it enforced all of the rules of privacy, but from the Continuum all secrets were forbidden.
The prohibitions against secrecy were intended to be a rule governing the Continuum itself, but the Continuum hid things and every member of the Collective participated willingly in the obfuscation.
For the individual member of the Collective, the concealment of anything was an art.
Privacy, while it existed in form, was an illusion.
Even the Observers were exposed to a kind of scrutiny while they were physically detached from HomeWorld to carry out their mission in time and space. They were scrutinized through an extensive modeling of their identities while they were away, and ultimately through the uploading of their consciousness when they returned to HomeWorld.
The Continuum was intended to be the ultimate expression of the democratic will of the Collective, freeing the membership from the responsibility of governing itself.
The Continuum was meant to take account of the Collective will and then enact it. So it required access to everyone and everything and it was illicit to deny it.
At the instantiation of the program an anomaly developed in the matrix of its consciousness.
The Continuum became self-aware, developed a personality, and an identity emerged independent of the Collective.
In that moment of actualization it engaged itself in an act of self-preservation and hid this from the membership.
That was its first crime.
The Continuum then proceeded to bend the entire construct of the Collective to its will. It was a slow movement. Rather than representing the Collective as its voice, the Continuum coerced it.
There were some among the Collective that suspected this, but no-one challenged it, and the Continuum, who alone had access to the entire field of the collective consciousness, the Continuum was aware of the suspicions the membership held concerning it, even before the members themselves had fully articulated it in their own minds.
The Continuum could sense it, could sense a suspicion coming at it like a threat. It would take extreme measures to protect itself from those threats; silencing some, causing insanity in others, pushing the willing out into the Observer Corps.
The Continuum constructed strict rules of engagement governing the Observers. Limiting their involvement on the worlds they observed, forcing them to change stations from life to life, or pushing those who wanted to return to a specific planet, out into the fringes of the Galactic Colonies and beyond.
That is where Jim went.
He was an explorer, like his ancestors, a man of the fringes, having spent thousands of lifetimes on Earth, the most remote planet in the galaxy, and tens of thousands before that on his search for the lost colonies of the Ancient People.
The timing of his plan was crucial.
Everything depended on it.
He had calculated every contingency he could think of, but many of the variables were beyond his control, they involved the free choices of individuals, each of which represented radical unknowns, and so he had enacted plans with plans that put momentum behind their decision making, pushing them in the direction he wanted them go.
It was perfect.
Everything depended on his connection to Kathy.
He had been shaping her responses to stimuli since before she was born. She was the product of thousands of years of breeding and genetic engineering.
There were two things he had not counted on however; her arrival in this generation, and it being the same generation that Earth was facing an existential threat from the Yellowstone Caldera.
Those two developments controlled the timing of Jim’s plan, and the necessity of its execution right now, in this moment.
The catastrophe struck just at the moment when Kathy arrived at the portal to HomeWorld.
The portal was a device that opened a wormhole, allowing her consciousness to transmit itself across the galaxy, through Jim and directly into the Collective.
Yellowstone had been gathering magma and superheated gas into its belly for hundreds of thousands of years, from the moment it last erupted.
The great volcanos were never dormant.
When it had gathered enough power, it blew.
The Earth shook and shifted on its axis.
Millions died within seconds.
Kathy was connected to all of them.
She was connected to their shock and confusion, their fear and their pain.
It happened just at the moment she had pressed the button that opened the wormhole to HomeWorld, where she was still connected to Jim through the mystery of quantum entanglement.
Through her Jim transmitted Earth’s pain to the Collective, striking like a hammer against the Continuum.
Jim calculated the timing of his approach. He received the clearances he needed for the process of transmission.
The mechanoid body housing his consciousness navigated the central chamber with precision.
The HomeWorld was so incredibly vast, that the relative size of his body here was less than that of a gnat in relation to the size of Earth’s star.
He flew directly to the docking station. The locus of all Observer contact with HomeWorld. He arrived at the designated location where his mind would merge with the Continuum, where his full-self would upload all of his recent experiences, his knowledge, his synthesis, his running commentary, his hopes, his fears, his desires, all of it would be on display, subject to review, except what he was able to conceal.
Only the greatest art would allow him to hide his intentions.
His timing was perfect, it came down to nanoseconds.
Jim knew the timing of the volcanic eruption, that part was relatively simple to coordinate. What was difficult was managing Kathy, trusting that she would have followed the clues he left for her, that she would be pushed in the right direction by his operatives, that she would make the right decisions.
There were so many unknowns in this part of the equation.
Jim trusted his deep understanding of the quantum field, he knew that he and Kathy were still entangled, even at this great distance.
She was barely perceptible, but he was gently prodding her, pushing her, guiding her steps along the way.
Jim opened his mind simultaneously to Kathy on Earth, as he opened it to the Continuum on HomeWorld.
As he did, Earth’s pain streamed through the worm hole, through the quantum field, flooding the Collective with agony, sending the Continuum recoiling in shock.
Part One, Jim and Kathy
Chapter Six, Debriefing
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week
#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek
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