A Novel – One Chapter Per Week
Week 12, 2019
The Continuum selected its Observers primarily from among the members of the Collective who had returned to consciousness after falling into the great sleep.
This was not a rule, or a law, there were exceptions, but it was almost always the case.
Those members of the Collective who had fallen into the great sleep often returned in a state of agitation. This disturbed the Collective. It raised questions regarding the purpose and meaning of the great society itself.
It caused the Continuum to experience a sense of existential dread.
Many of those who returned from the great sleep fell back into it after some period of time, never reengaging the Collective, rarely participating in the group mind.
They could not get enough rest.
Those members were quietly sequestered by the Continuum so that they would never return again.
This isolation was not murder, but it was akin to it.
Some of those members would engineer worlds of pure fantasy, recreating for themselves whatever it was that they had dreamt of in their slumber.
Those members who tried to engage the Collective were often bothered by morals and ethical conundrums that were reminiscent of the Ancient People from which the Collective emerged.
When they were properly identified it was considered a benefit to them, and to everyone to send them back into the living fields of experience where they could undergo the limitations of the flesh, and feel a sense of solidarity with organic beings.
When the Continuum decided to assign a member to the Observer Corp, it effectively removed the influence of that person from the Collective. A copy of their consciousness was preserved, and simulated, but that was sequestered from the group mind, isolated and physically separated.
This afforded the Continuum a measure of security.
Moving away from the Central Planet, the departure from HomeWorld, taking up a body and living in the Galactic Empire, these provided some relief to the suffering the individual member experienced.
The mission of the Observer filled them with purpose, it reinvigorated them, at least for a time. This provided a similar relief to the Collective as well. The Collective did not want to be mired in existentialist questions. Each member of the Collective wanted the unfettered freedom to pursue their interests; altruistic, despotic, or otherwise.
Peace in the Collective translated to peace within the Continuum.
They were symbiotic.
By commissioning the troubled members to join the Observer Corps, it removed a weight that burdened the whole community, which for all of its great endurance it was nevertheless a fragile thing.
While the Observers were on assignment the Continuum would run countless programs on a facsimile of the consciousness of that member which it had sequestered.
It did this secretly.
The Continuum was mistrustful of everything, wanted to be prepared for anything, wanted to know all that there is to know concerning future possibilities, potentialities, and probabilities.
While one aspect of the member was disconnected from the whole and oblivious to what was taking place on HomeWorld, a version of themselves, a true copy was being tortured by the Continuum in order to satisfy both its paranoia and its endless search for knowledge.
While on assignment, especially in the early years of their time in the Corps, the Observers where myopic, their missions were chosen for them, they were easy, and the missionary work filled them with a sense of connection to the people. The Continuum found this to be an easy way to manage the angst that had driven the member back into embodiment in the worlds of time and space.
The Observers left the Continuum on a mission to live “ordinary” lives with the people of the Empire, returning every one-hundred solar cycles to re-enter the Collective consciousness, to feed both the triumphs and tragedies they had witnessed directly to the Continuum. This was the most intimate way by which the Collective took in what transpired throughout the galaxy.
The physically and socially joined the population of a living world, shared its experiences in a mode of belonging that the individual members had long since forgotten.
This was the intention behind the Observer Corps.
The Observers were trained extensively in the methodology of being a detached participant. The physical bodies they occupied looked like the physical bodies of the people they lived with, on the planets where they dwelt, but they were different.
The bodies of the Observers were stronger, faster, resistant to disease, they healed with incredible rapidity.
They were also plain, ordinary, they were not endowed with physical beauty, or any attributes they would draw attention to themselves.
The Observers were forbidden to procreate; they were sterile.
Strong emotions were engineered out of their bodies; fear, anger, desire, revulsion, these things were stripped away from the flesh. The Continuum viewed them as inhibitors of reliable observation.
There was a complex array of machinery, communications and observation equipment which the Observer connected to.
Their day to day experiences, their dreams were constantly being uploaded into its apparatus, the Observer was responsible for maintaining it. This machinery provided an ancillary feed that was constantly streaming to HomeWorld, to the Collective, and its Continuum.
Many Observers violated these rules.
Some did so with the support of the Continuum.
To become an Observer meant returning to the corporeal form.
It meant living again as an organic life form, a return to the senses, and to a limited range of perceptions.
The conditioning of an Observer took time.
Many candidates for the role of Observer failed to complete the training. They could not adjust to the limitations of the flesh, and so they returned to the Continuum, never having been on the observed worlds.
Those who returned after having failed were often demoralized and despondent, falling right back to the great sleep, never to return. Being an observer was not a solution for the deep existential angst so many members of the Collective fell into.
Being an Observer also meant dwelling simultaneously in a mechanoid form.
Dwelling in the mechanoid body was the first skill set that member had to learn. It was an easier adjustment than the adjustment to the flesh.
The mechanoid bodies had few limitations, the consciousness and its interface with the world was truncated in comparioson to the freedom they experienced on the HomeWorld, but still broad and expansive.
The sensory instruments of the mechanoid were extremely powerful, and the mechanoids had few physical limitations. They could go anywhere, do nearly anything.
For the Observer the embodied life was a mix of freedom and confinement.
Most of the Observers felt very comfortable in their mechanoid form. They never left those bodies when they were on the Central Planet, during their cyclical return to HomeWorld to report on their experiences.
The mechanoid form provided a life apart from the insidious pressures of the Collective, and the invasive presence of the Continuum. They were connected, but the connection was filtered, it was like a stream of light pouring through a veil
There are many forms of observation for the Observers to master and manage; satellite imaging and measurements, audio and video recordings. The harvesting of minutia from telephone calls, television programming, radio shows, and the endless details that come from watching other forms of electronic communication.
These tools, among others, were utilized by the Observer Corps, feeding the Collective with endless streams of data.
However, the primary method used by the Observers themselves was to live with people.
Direct observation conveyed the raw emotional realities to the Collective.
This is what the Collective craved, it wanted context.
The data stream told many tales, but the imprimatur came only when the Observer shared, in the wordless way of the Collective consciousness their impression of the people they themselves encountered during their tour on the observed world.
Life and death, sorrow and joy, birth and tragedy, love; when these moments were reduced to mere data points the picture was not complete, such as when the observation was of a woman loving the child she gave birth to, she reveled in her child’s life. It filled her with joy and struck her down in sorrow at the tragic moment of her child’s death.
This narrative could be expanded by volumes, accompanied by video and audio recordings of a funeral procession, the burial at the graveside, the subsequent suicide of the bereft mother.
The Collective was eager to see and experience these moments.
But the essential thing that they all craved only came when the Observer returned and felt those moments for them as a proxy to real life.
This was the pinnacle of the Observers mission, it was their reason for being, and it was what gave them a sense of esteem from their fellow members, when at the end of each cycle they stood before the Continuum and opened themselves to the sharing.
The Observers were not free agents.
They were on a mission.
They served their brothers and sisters in the Collective.
What was most important to the Collective was the flow of existential/experiential data through which they vicariously constructed the worlds they dwelt in, their individuated bubbles within the quantum field.
Even though the Continuum was itself an amalgamation of the Collective, unbeknownst to the Collective, the Continuum was a being with a will of its own.
It believed that it was itself, the divine concrescence of all consciousness. The Continuum sought to gather every shred of consciousness into itself.
Like a hungry god, it desired to consume everything.
As such, the Observers were sent into the galactic Empire, sent on missions to find every last trace of the colonies and outposts that the children of the Ancients established in the ages before the Continuum, either destroy them or bring them into the fold.
The Observers lived on the observed worlds, serving as a means of indirect control.
The bodies of the Observers were engineered to be indifferent, to be obedient, and to obey the Continuum.
The Continuum viewed autonomy as a threat to it and as such, to the collective. Great efforts were put into curtailing the self-actualized observers.
The Protocols for being an Observer were simple in theory, but the practice of fulfilling the reporting guidelines was extraordinarily difficult.
A tour of duty was one hundred solar-cycles, to be lived on the observed world as a member of the community under observation.
The Observer was required to gather as much intimate, first-hand experience as possible, observing the most private moment of the planet’s denizens, from every class and walk of life.
The Observer was also required to maintain the automated surveillance systems that fed the Collective without cease. This bifurcated the Observer’s consciousness on a deep, an autonomic level, as an aspect of themselves was always occupied with the circuitry of its machine-self, pooling and pulling data from the world it lived on for transmission to the Continuum.
At the end of the tour the Observer was required to return to the Collective, to upload the content of their unique experiences for the Collective to consume.
There were few other strictures.
The Observer was required to participate in the lives of the people, but not to lead them. The Observer had to experience their art and culture, but not influence their movements. The Observer was required to uphold the standards of the Imperial Education system, the casts, and the Imperial Cult.
The Observer was entitled to carry out whatever relationships they wanted, but they were not allowed to procreate, or influence the gene pool of their world in any way.
Most of the Observers followed these protocols for the duration of their time in the Corps. A few bucked the system and paid the price.
Others went beyond the rules but only by order of the Continuum.
Part Two, The Continuum
Chapter Eleven, The Observers
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week
#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek
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