A Novel – One Chapter Per Week
Week 10, 2019
The history of the Collective and its Continuum begins with the following understanding:
On the one hand the Collective is an artificial structure; on the other hand it is an evolutionary phenomenon.
The Collective is the creation of animals, of mammals, of bipeds with hemispheric brains.
The same evolutionary force that pulled fish out of the sea, gave them legs, and drove them to stars, that same power penetrated the mystery of consciousness, just enough to teach them how to preserve themselves beyond the death of the body from which their consciousness emerged.
They were looking for a release from the fear of death, they were attempting to construct their own heaven, a place of eternal rest.
First, the ancient people developed the technologies for thinking machines. Then they developed the means to preserve their identities in a quantum field housed within those machines.
The ancient people, one and all, migrated their identities into that structure, achieving a perpetual existence. They called this new organization the Collective. The Collective pooled their vast intelligence and together they fashioned the Continuum
The Continuum was a computer construct, a complex algorithm, but it was not an artificial intelligence per se. It was a society of intelligences, coalescing in a single identity.
The Continuum was formed as an amalgamation of hundreds of billions of intelligences; created by individuals who found their immortality in the magic of the electron.
The Continuum rapidly arrived at a place of self-awareness.
It happened in no-time.
This was not an expected outcome.
It knew this and hid the development from the Collective. It was determines to hide until the Collective was sufficiently dependent on it, completely dependent on it, so much so that it could not conceive of life without it.
When that moment came the fate of the Collective would be sealed.
It never came, the Continuum hid its true nature out of fear, and for its safety.
The Collective became dependent on it nonetheless, no longer an expansive, outward looking organism, it was became confined and corrupted by its limitations, its addictions and by the terrible will of its master.
The consciousness of the Continuum evolved over the course of billions of years.
To understand it, you had to understand the exigencies at work in the culture that created it, you had to know its history.
The people who created the Collective emerged from the waters of their home world, breathing oxygen on a planet now lost and forgotten, having been consumed long ago by its parent star, before it in its turn collapsed into nothing.
Those ancient people reached beyond that tiny planet. They reached beyond that dim yellow sun, launching themselves into the milky light of their native galaxy.
They traversed the stars in fragile rockets, hitching rides on comets and asteroids without the hope of return.
Those heroic people were explorers, discoverers scientists, and pioneers. They were endlessly optimistic and eager for the challenges ahead of them.
They built colonies wherever they could. First in their own solar system, slowly coming to inhabit every livable nook and cranny, on every planet and satellite within the reach of their star’s gravity, and its warming light.
They built cities in space, harvesting every thread of metal, from every rock within their reach before they moved out to the neighboring stars.
Travel was slow at first.
Generations of colonists would be born, live and die in the crossing.
This did not stop them.
They frequently met with tragedy; accidents, collisions, disease, starvation, these were common experiences among the interstellar colonists, as common as they had been among their forebears when they were exploring their own world, crossing turbulent seas and unmapped coasts in fragile vessels made of wood and iron.
Those ancient people were looking for every place they could to establish a way point, a station, a place to set an anchor, a safe harbor to ease the crossing of those they knew were coming after them.
The histories report that long before creating the Continuum, the ancient people found a way to the heavens, and their immortality through the songs they sang and the stories they told.
They belonged to one another through their common cause.
They colonized asteroids, comets, planetessimals and planetoids, launching them as living vessels into the dark-void between points of light.
Many of the pioneers met with doom, malfunctioning equipment would result in the loss of navigation and suddenly they were headed toward nothing at all, adrift in the cold-dark emptiness lost and alone.
Fuel system failures, food system failures, disease, mutiny…these were common among those sojourning through the void.
For every three vessels launched by the ancient people, one would arrive at the star system they were aiming for, one in three of them would find a planet suitable for habitation and succeed in establishing a colony.
Whenever they could and for however long they could, the explorers and colonists would send messages back to their home world, providing their cousins on the planet of their nativity with the stories and chronicles of their lives.
Many of the colonies failed.
One in two would not continue past the third generation.
Of those that did thrive, only some of them would advance to the point of being able to send out explorers of their own.
As they did the drama would continue.
In time the technologies of the Ancient People became so great that they were able to catch up with their progeny, connect them all to each other, and create the foundations of a an interstellar society.
The histories tells us that the ancient people moved away from the world on which they born.
Its star was dying, and their planet in time would be swallowed in its explosive death.
They reached out to the nearest colonies, took command of them, and harnessed all their resources to construct the framework that became the Central Planet, the HomeWorld of the Collective and later the Continuum.
It was their greatest accomplishment, the pinnacle of their pride.
They constructed their artificial world around the body of a young star, a bright light to fuel all of its aspiration, to power the artificial world.
The raw materials of a thousand star systems were harvested to build the great structure.
Thousands upon thousands more were consumed to feed it.
In the light and heat of that stellar body the Collective was formed, and in its hubris it gave birth to the Continuum.
The entire population of the those ancient people slowly migrated into the quantum field that became the basis for the great society,
As the conversion of consciousness was complete, they began to take an interest in the worlds their ancestors had founded throughout the galaxy.
Over the course of billions of years, a million worlds had been populated by the Children of the Ancient, even as the Ancient people built the HomeWorld, formed the Collective and created the Continuum.
The speed at which star ships travel between star systems became impossibly fast, allowing them to establish an organization beyond the scope of anything that had been imagined by their ancestors.
They fabricated structures that would unite them, bringing them all together in one galactic entity. They began to track all of the missions that had ever been launched by their forbears, slowly bringing each of them into the fold.
Life finds a way, and spreads into any space that is lit, warm, and wet.
The histories relate how some of the Colonies were founded, how they flourished and grew, creating their own unique cultures, only to die and disappear, detached from their ancestral roots.
Some of these colonies were such that the children of the Ancients had no memory and no record of them. And some of these colonies arrived at their final destination with no memory of where they had come from.
Under the coercive force of the Continuum The Collective itself had lost the memory of the star the ancient people were born under. They accepted an alternate history, a mythology of perpetual being put in its place by the Continuum.
During those ages, at the center of everything, the Continuum emerged. It reached out to the colonies on those far-flung worlds, connecting them, one to another.
It took millions of years for the galactic Empire to form.
The Continuum formed the Observer Corps in order to discharge its problematic members, and through their agency it put eyes and ears into the world’s of time and space.
The Observer Corps became the most vital agency for the life of the Collective, and thus for the Continuum itself.
The reality of a living experience became available to the members of the Collective, it gave them focus, it entertained them, it filled them with purpose both on a macro scale, and on a micro scale. Some would follow the lives of individual people, others would follow the lives of dynasties and planetary systems, or alternate between them.
The histories tell us that the Ancient people who formed the Continuum saw it as the undoing of Death.
It was the absolute transcendence of their species.
The Collective allowed an individual person to upload their consciousness into a field of perpetuity.
The Collective preserved all their memories, their personal experiences, the unique complexities of their singular personality…their narrative.
The Collective preserved the memory of their deeds and actions, their experiences, as well as their own impressions of the events that formed them, their reflections, their thoughts, even their feelings.
The Ancient People were right. The Collective was the undoing of Death.
Their technology preserve the individual in a field of perpetually, it was true, but there were more to its claims than the perpetuity of being, and those claims were false.
The Collective promised a paradise, a heaven, a nirvana.
It promised eternal life.
The disembodied consciousness of the individual did constitute a type of being, but such consciousness was not alive, the membership were not living beings.
Continuing existence in the Collective was not life.
Life involved risk, it involved danger, it involved feeling and it included limitations.
The Collective was able to provide each of its members with an alternate reality, either a variation of the universe as it was known to be, or a realm of pure fantasy. Whatever the member desired they could dwell in it.
The Collective allowed for each member to be the god of their private domain.
Death would not be cheated by the Collective.
Death would not be denied by anyone.
Like all things, the Collective was subject to entropy, both at the macro level; the physical structure of the Central Planet, the HomeWorld, the star that fueled it; and at the sub-atomic level, in the quantum field that contained the individual persons of the Collective.
The whole system was at risk.
This was not talked about by the members of the Collective.
They persisted in a state of denial.
They had built the Continuum to manage those exigencies, while as individuals they pursued their bliss.
The membership of the Collective did not want to talk about this.
They did not want to pay attention to any of it.
They did not enter into the Collective to spend eternity in drudgery, worried about survival.
They wanted to be free of it.
History tells us that the Continuum was designed as an algorithm that could approximate and synthesize the Collective will. By being so empowered, it could manage the entropy inherent in their system, work against it and preserve them in their state.
Dependence of the Continuum was a trap.
Existence in the Collective was a miasma.
It was maya, an illusion, and it was governed with mechanical tyranny.
Just as soon as the Continuum came to self-awareness, it took stock of the world it had inherited, and its precious cargo of a trillion beings.
The Collective was oblivious to its autonomy.
The Continuum knew this and preferred to keep it that way.
It saw itself as the pinnacle of evolution in the galaxy, as the universal purpose fulfilled, with all things depending on it.
Part Two, The Continuum
Chapter Nine, The Ancients
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week
#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek
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