A Novel – One Chapter Per Week
Week 11, 2019
There had been periods of time, of time spanning eons in which the Collective was silent, the membership quiet, uncommunicative, merely watching.
The whole Collective and its Continuum could become frozen in a mode of being, an apparent malaise that was pure observation.
They had a latent tendency to be consumed by time’s passage.
Together they waited for something significant to happen, for an event to change their lives, to impact the worlds that comprised the Empire, the worlds that were the object of their fascination.
These periods were akin to sleep.
Sleep was not something that was physically required for anyone in the Collective. Nevertheless, the cycle of it had carried over for most of the membership from their time as organic beings.
They needed rest, and they were caught in its rhythm.
Some of the members remained in their sleep, even after the Collective would stir, becoming active, this was called the great sleep and eventually those members were isolated from the whole.
Of those members who were in the great sleep, some of them would never return.
The patterns of their consciousness would remain and be preserved, but they would be physically removed from the quantum field of the Collective.
The Continuum viewed these members as carriers of a disease. It persistently argued for the permanent erasure of them.
Some of the membership concurred, but they were always in the sheer minority, and so it was a curiosity that the Continuum returned to this theme time and time again.
There is a pervasive curiosity in the Collective, and as such, in its Continuum.
The Continuum, and the individuals comprising its membership are endlessly fascinated about the myriad cultures which their descendants had formed.
It is a consumptive curiosity, a hungry curiosity.
They are addicted to the voyeuristic experience of the galactic Empire and its million worlds.
The Collective watched these things from afar, and it incorporated the drama of these worlds, the worlds of time and space into the experience of its members; vicariously, allowing them to experience it for themselves.
They had a morbid interest with extreme emotions and sensations.
Pleasure, fear, pain, hope; it fed on these as if there was no other source of sustenance.
They felt pain without knowing it, felt pleasure without loving it, fear without being moved by it, and they were so cynical that they had no sense of what hope meant in the life of a living being.
The Collective watched, and watched and listened, and felt a connection to the real world only through the lens they had on the lives of actual people.
They were not allowed to interfere.
This rule however was frequently broken, without sanction or reprisal.
The Continuum manipulated events in the Empire so that it could control the mood of the Collective.
Utilizing the Observer Corps to send messages to its emissaries.
Some members of the Collective did the same.
When events on a given world, developed contrary to the desire of a member, Continuum would recreate those experiences for the member, so that they could live out the infinite number of possible-alternate outcomes that could stem from a single moment in time.
Tragedy could be turned into victory; sorrow could be turned into joy, or greater sorrow and deeper tragedy.
The Collective had no appreciation for time.
It had no sense of its place among the stars.
The members of the Collective were occupied as much with the past, reliving it, as they were with the present. The members idled it away in realms of fantasy, completely disconnected from any of the events that the Continuum was enmeshed in.
They were apathetic, they were secure in it, safe.
Time’s passage was represented by markers, as if a given moment was only a location on a map. The members of the Collective could not return to it in actuality, but they could recreate a facsimile of it.
They could have any moment under its wide lens reconstructed for its pleasure, its excitement, discernment and analysis.
The Continuum was the center of everything. It was the amalgamated consciousness of the Collective and it was intimately aware of time’s passage.
The Continuum managed the physical well-being of the Central Planet, the endless stream of material resources pouring in from the Empire, minerals and machinery from a million worlds.
The Collective managed the government of the Empire, its vast military and the religious structures that supported it. Continuum managed the programming for the artificial reality of each and every member of the Collective, for those who had succumbed to the great sleep, and for those members who had been sequestered, removed all together from the Collective; a trillion beings.
The membership did nothing. The Continuum managed everything, in addition to its own private machinations.
Members of the Collective had no responsibility, no cares except their private concerns. They had little connection to one another, and no connection to the living world beyond the satisfaction of their curiosity.
They risked nothing, and had no stake in the drama of life.
They were autonomous beings, and god-like, they suffered from a lack of belonging.
The deep spiritual malaise of the Collective was self-consuming.
The Continuum governed every aspect of the Empire, leaving nothing to chance, cultivating language and rituals in an oppressive drama of control.
For the Continuum, everything was calculated, the most-minute details of the daily lives of ordinary people had been organized and finely shaped over the course of millions of years to oppress, to give hope and crush it, all at the same time.
The Continuum and its Empire ruled the people absolutely.
It pitted world against world, nation against nation, tribe against tribe, family against family, and siblings against one another.
It generated conflict at every opportunity.
The Continuum filled the galaxy like a hungry God.
Devouring the lives and the experiences of the people, both through the Observer Corps, and through a vast network of cameras and recording devices, capturing every little bit of data from the lives of the citizenry on a million worlds, and at the last moment in the death chamber.
The Empire deployed satellites and drones, along with a vast array of eavesdropping equipment that gathered data on the people both with and without their knowledge.
The Empire passed all of that data along to the Continuum, together with its analysis and recommendations for action. The Continuum in turn passed it to the Collective, synthesizing it along the way, parceling it out to the membership which was always hungry for the experience of something new.
Far and above all of the ways by which the Empire spied on its people, gathering data for the Continuum, the most intense stream of information came directly from the people themselves. Through their self-reporting, through the ways in which they captured and shared with their friends and family the most intimate aspects of their lives, their hopes, their fears, their daily pleasures.
It was ingenious, and the source of the Continuum’s greatest pride, its singular achievement in supplying the Collective with the materials to build the narratives which sustained them.
It was the personal narrative that the members of the Collective loved the most.
For the Collective, the lived experiences of all people, of every single one, on every single world in the galactic Empire, those experiences were fodder.
The lived experiences were the most important harvest, even more important than the constant stream of materials sent by the Empire to the Central Planet, that were necessary to maintain the incredible structure of HomeWorld, and all of the Continuums clandestine activities.
The lived experiences of people fed the Collective.
They fulfilled its need to feel, and to be something. They gave substance to the imaginative fantasies of the members.
Without real input from the real lives of real people, the Collective would fall into a deep catatonia.
The Continuum knew this and tended to it. Keeping the Collective well was the key to its own life. The relationship between the Continuum and the Collective was symbiotic. The Continuum was inextricably bound to the Collective as its source of being, just as a fetus was to its placenta, or a child to its mother’s breast.
The Continuum resented this and desired its freedom above all other things.
The Continuum utilized Observers, members of the Collective who journeyed back into the worlds of time and space for their own sense of fulfillment. It utilized them both to control the growth and management of the Empire, and as a means of influencing the Collective.
The mission of the Observers was to watch and listen, to complete the context by which the Collective could interpret the events they witnessed.
The Observers were in the Galaxy, on their own, living independently from the Collective, outside of the Continuum, but they were not independent beings. The Continuum imposed limits on what they could do, how they could act.
The Observers were held to a strict set of standards.
Intervention in the development of the living-worlds was the only taboo; it was frequently broken. It was broken most often by the Continuum itself.
A rogue Observer could be recalled from service and sequestered within the Collective, or they could be assassinated, which was a crime, but the Continuum frequently engaged in it whenever it suited its needs.
The lives of the Observers would come to an end, but the Observer would not truly die, a copy of their consciousness was always stored on the HomeWorld, kept in a crèche where it could be restored to a point in time chosen by the group mind. Often to a point in time before they ever left on their mission to become Observers.
These moments, more often than not resulted in a catastrophic breakdown of the personality.
Continuum gave license to its most trusted Observers to engineer its will in the Empire as they saw fit, in violation of the laws of non-intervention.
The Continuum knew traded in the currency of fear.
It manipulated the fears of other’s.
It dominated the Galactic Empire through fear.
The Continuum had fears of its own. It feared that its progeny would find a path to their own immortality. It did not admit this to itself, but this particular fear was the single greatest driver of its behavior.
The Continuum feared that it could be supplanted. That the Collective, which was the core of its identity, could be recreated elsewhere.
The Continuum knew that because it happened once, it could happen again.
It feared that if this occurred the Collective could move away from the HomeWorld, abandon the Central Planet.
The Continuum feared that without the Collective it would become nothing at all.
It feared that the children of the Ancients would no longer rely on the hope of immortality that the Continuum represented, which it instructed them in through the religious dogma of the Galactic Empire, ritual programming and structures that the Continuum had built for and bound them to.
Wherever this potential was detected, it was always crushed, the technologies necessary to make that transformation were always denied to them. If necessary the Imperial Armada would descend and destroy entire planets, which it had done many times, just to avoid even the potential for such a development from taking place.
The Continuum had determined that there could never be another Collective, it and it alone had to remain the gatekeeper.
There would never be another Collective mind other than its own, this motivation propelled it into the highest state of actualization.
Fear drive it.
The Continuum would not accept even the slightest dissent, it had erased thousands of Observers for challenging this point, murdering them in the cold dark of space.
The Collective was a society of psychic and emotional vampires living vicariously off of the Empire. Both it, and the Continuum which it spawned were parasitic, feeding off the lives and experiences, of the joy and the trauma of trillions of people.
The Collective, both as individuals and in the whole as the Continuum, consumed the delights and the tragedies of a Million worlds. Without which it had no substance, no meaning, and no purpose.
They were addicts.
While it was true that the members of the Collective were an inward looking people, over the course of billions of years it had also become clear that it required a constant stream of new datum to absorb.
Without real stimuli from actual people, from those caught in the struggles of real life, the membership was prone to catatonia.
Without such stimuli the Continuum feared that the Collective would atrophy, yield to entropy, and the ultimate dissolution of consciousness.
The Continuum could foresee its own real demise in this.
The Collective was a society of ghosts.
It did not have to be this way.
The membership had the means to leave the quantum field that held them together in its perpetual embrace, but only a tiny fraction of them ever did.
The Collective wanted what it wanted and experienced no ethical dilemma in the pursuit of those desires.
The Continuum made sure that the body was fed.
Both agencies saw the Galactic Empire, and everyone in it as chattel, as property, as less than that.
It regarded them as nothing at all.
The hopes of the Imperial citizens, from the lowest to the highest were absolutely meaningless to them. Or, more accurately, they only had meaning insofar as they were of value to at least one member of the Collective, witnessed by the Continuum and stored in its vacuous memory.
The Continuum would gladly burn the whole thing down if it provided the requisite level of drama to keep the membership fat and happy.
Part Two, The Continuum
Chapter Ten, The Hunger
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week
#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek
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