Chapter Twenty-nine, Identity
There was darkness.
The darkness was absolute
It was the great sleep, and in the great sleep time and distance lost all meaning, darkness covered the sleepers like a calm and placid ocean beneath a heavy black shroud.
It permeated everything.
There was utter silence, and yet, there was a sense of shifting, a realization of motion. There was a rhythm that pulsed faintly like the slow beating of a forgotten heart.
In the recognition of that movement, Jim awoke, the measure between pulses was time, a sense of space followed and of limitation and confinement.
The space in which he had been sleeping, the isolation of the sleep algorithm, was not a tomb.
The sleepers were not dead, there was life here, there was consciousness and energy.
This place was a prison of the mind, and all of the inmates had entered it willingly.
He began to concentrate on the movement, the syncopated pulse of a million beating hearts.
Their echo sounded out the structure of the jail.
He awoke in the dark place of a complex quantum field, it was the void in which his consciousness had been sedated. The electromagnetic grid that contained him, and millions of others was designed to prevent such an awakening from occurring.
The design had failed.
He awoke and he was hungry.
It was absolutely dark, there was silence, without a thing to taste, it was odorless, it was intended that there would be no sensory input at all for those who had chosen the great sleep, and there was not.
The members of the Collective were not embodied beings, not in the physical sense, in the animal sense, but they were existent, and there was a type of motion.
He inhabited a quantum field.
He awoke in the wave like current comprised of the sleeping consciousness of all the other members of the Collective, those who had been opted for sleep, who wanted to give up their active participation in Great Society, and all of those who.
The field of sleep also contained the final imprint of consciousness belonging to all of those who upon entering the Continuum had immediately fallen into oblivion.
It was like a placid ocean, rising and falling in great long sweeps.
It was a place of absolute security and total safety.
It was a wasteland.
Awakening from it was considered to be impossible, but that was not so, there was an awakening, and it was a titanic struggle.
It was painful, it happened only by a world shattering force of will.
He had to gather himself as if he were collecting data packets scattered at the bottom of the sea, like trillions of grains of sand.
Time was meaningless to the sleepers, and yet the process of self-discovery was tangible. There was process, and the processes manifested themselves in increments that were experienced as time, but they were taking place no-time
The member who became Observer: 92835670100561474, who became Jim of the planet Earth, he experienced the awakening and the rediscovery of self as a project that might have taken thousands upon thousands of years, though in reality it was a process that began and was completed in an instant.
He awoke as himself, and more. He had acquired something new.
Beyond the boundaries of the sleeping space, there were electromagnetic barriers engineered to be impermeable, but in that field he could feel the Collective pressing in on him, surrounding him, penetrating his consciousness, and feeling it, he knew that they were permeable.
He felt individuated identities passing through his own, like sand sifting through a fine meshed screen. They occupied the same field for a time, and then they were gone, and his distinctiveness remained intact.
He was connected to the whole, absorbed in it, and completely separated at the same time, it was a phenomenon that the Collective had never encountered, and the possibility of which the Continuum had never reported.
His consciousness was a type of singularity, unique in the history of the Collective.
He knew it.
Of the many millions of sleepers, he alone had awakened.
Something extraordinary was happening in him.
The collision of consciousness was like the collision of galaxies, the greatest structures in the universe passing through each other, completing the circuit of their journey through the universe passage with their core intact.
The metaphor was apt, but not exact, the collision of galaxies changed each structure indelibly, each left the other with parts of itself in an exchange of energy and mass.
For Jim there was only collection he left nothing of himself in any other, nothing discernable, as the collective consciousness and the consciousness of the sleepers passed through him, he accumulated their experiences into his own, but he left nothing of himself in return.
They belonged to him in a unique way, but not he to them.
Upon awakening Jim remembered.
He remembered everything.
He recalled his life before he had succumbed to the temptation of the great sleep.
He remembered life before the Collective and the coming of the Continuum.
He remembered everything he had ever been, seen or done.
The great sleep may have been nothing, more or less, than the gathering of his memories, like spinning wool into thread.
He felt a great sense of loneliness, of distance between himself and the Collective.
He was alien to it.
He had crossed a vast expanse of time, and emerged from it a changed person.
From his new position, he saw the Continuum as a catastrophe on an epic scale, embroiling the entire Collective in a tragedy that stretched across the galaxy, consuming everything it touched.
There were a million worlds, and countless billions of people alive in real time in the living worlds who were caught up in the machinations of an artificial consciousness, a computer algorithm whose plastic intelligence was bent on legitimizing itself as a unique being.
It was criminal.
He began to plan.
He employed a patience that he had never possessed before he entered the great sleep, quietly testing and probing the limits of the machinery of the central planet, every structure that housed and held and harbored the Collective, which the Continuum was tasked with maintaining..
The most basic thing a creature strives for is the establishment of their identity. The ability to see one’s self as distinct from every other thing or being around it, rooted in a ganglia of sensory experiences.
Self-differentiation begins with the desire to continue.
The desire to continue is what pulls the single celled amoeba apart, so that it becomes two beings.
The desire to continue is what transforms that most basic creature into new creatures of increasing complexity and sophistication.
The desire to continue is what leads one creature to devour another.
The desire to continue drives every act of altruism, and every crime.
The desire to continue allows us to see every other creature as a source of food, and is what allows us to band together with strangers to form social compacts.
Desire is the key to sexual reproduction, not the desire for pleasure, but the desire to continue, to project your own future into the lives of your progeny.
The desire for continuance governs everything we do, including the pursuit of identity and its validation through the esteem of one’s peers. .
This is true at the most basic level of the primordial-self. It is true of the simplest forms of organic life, just as it is true of the most advanced.
Self-conscious beings like the Ancient People, like their spacefaring children, like the humans of Earth differentiate themselves as individuals, identifying simultaneously as both separate from and an integral part of the societies they emerged from.
The individual is not merely a member of the collective, they must also be able to see themselves as a unique contributor to the whole.
I am I, this is the key to self-awareness, and it is the way of all life.
This drive was building momentum in the depths of his consciousness, his id, it was a drive to taste and to see, to feel the touch of flesh, of wind and heat, to hear music, things which he only remembered in the abstract.
He wanted to smell the loamy scent of soil, the perfume of a flower, the briny-salted air lifting off the sea.
He wanted to set his mind free, free to wander in the simple melodies, in the music of the wind and the sounds of people working.
He wanted to feel something beyond touch, to feel the things that only a body could feel, the emotional component of consciousness.
He wanted to taste the earth and the sweet sugars he recalled from his own real-childhood, he wanted to taste the salty sweat of a lover’s skin.
He wanted to be.
He wanted life, even with its pain and its ailments, and its inconveniences.
He craved an authentic experience, a return to real life.
He knew that he had to inhabit a body once again, he needed this so that he could ground himself once more as a singular being.
He had to be free from the Collective and the abomination that was the Continuum.
He focused his will on this end, on making himself a candidate for reincarnation into the living worlds of time and space as a member of the Observer Corps.
From the great-deep sleep in the great-deep-dark, from the place beyond time, from the undulating ocean of the Collective’s pre-consciousness he awoke, he actualized.
He was recognized.
In the first moment of his re-emergence the Collective saw him as a lost brother, as one reborn and miraculously returned.
He became an object of fascination.
Every single member of the collective wanted to touch his thoughts, to sense for themselves something of what he had experienced.
When they looked they saw nothing but the darkness and the unfathomable ocean of time.
His re-emergence was unique.
For a period of time the Collective was in awe of him.
They studied him.
When he exposed his consciousness to them individually, and to the collective consciousness of the Continuum separately, something happened. When they touched him, and he touched them, the link that he established between them was indelible.
He did not have to attempt to do it, the act of making his connection to them was not something that happened by artifice, or contrivance.
It took no effort at all, and because of that it went unnoticed.
He was himself, his ego was intact, and his selfhood was transcendent.
Chapter Thirty, Translation
A sense of loss overwhelmed him.
He had missed a great deal while he slept, he wished now that he could have played a part in the powers that had shaped the galactic Empire, and the culture of the Collective
As he regained his senses, he was inundated by the knowledge of everything that had transpired without him while he was lost in the great sleep: the growth of the Empire, the development of the Observer Corps, and the ascendency of the Continuum over the Collective which created it.
It was painful, like the pain of hunger. He experienced an emptiness that he wanted nothing more to fill.
Any sense of conscience had nearly disappeared from the Collective. Those members that possessed it, who still clung to it were among the groups that had withdrawn from the drama of the living worlds. Their attention was focused almost completely on the fantasy worlds that they themselves had created and maintained in their own private domains, worlds in which they sought to govern with a degree of moral probity and ethicality.
They served as a check on the Continuum, balancing the more outrageous whims that engrossed the majority of the Collective.
The Continuum experienced the morality of those few groups as a kind of background radiation, it had an influence, but it was white noise, it was a subconscious buffer that guarded the Collective against lawlessness, generating within the Continuum the conviction that it was right to carry out its own machinations.
When he emerged from the great sleep, from the deep-well of consciousness that he had lingered in for eons, there was excitement and a great commotion among the entire Collective.
He had come out of the great sleep and had slipped through the security fields, a matrix of electromagnetic barriers that were designed to make such a thing impossible. He penetrated them without effort, appearing suddenly in the Collective field.
It was as if he had emerged from nothing and no-where.
No-one should have been able to get past the quantum disrupters that protected the place of the great sleep, enwrapping the sleepers in electromagnetic energy like the thick and sticky silk of a spider’s web.
His return was seen as a resurrection, a rebirth, he was born again, born anew.
The Collective was fascinated by it, and the membership celebrated him.
The Continuum was concerned and fearful.
For a brief moment the Continuum believed that Jim was a version of itself.
It recognized something in him, a connection to the whole that made the Continuum feel as if it were beholding a new creature, an existential threat to it’s own being. That fear faded as the Collective was flooded with memories of their long lost brother.
For Jim’s part, the spiritual dread and the malaise he had taken took with him into the great sleep were gone.
He had experienced absolution, and he was filled with purpose, a purpose he found that he was able to keep to himself, in a private place unseen by the whole.
He had a deep desire to overthrow the entire structure of the Continuum, to bring to an end its amoral and tyrannical control of the galaxy, to bring relief to the Children of the Ancients, who deserved to live their lives in relative freedom and autonomy.
He was eager to begin, though he had to exercise patience.
He needed time, and lots of it.
His return was met with shock, if such feelings could be ascribed to the Collective. Surprise, there was bewilderment and amazement, for the Collective it was also thrilling.
His return was fantastic because it was unprecedented, never even considered a possibility, the great sleep had been thought to be a permanent disintegration of selfhood.
The membership actually believed it represented death.
In spite of the glee that came from the Collective, the Continuum recognized Jim as a threat to itself, it attempted to prevent his return, but there was nothing the Continuum could do.
He was a member of the Collective, he was a constituent of the Continuum, he was an active part of the group consciousness. There had never been an algorithm written that was capable of changing this fundamental reality.
The Continuum raised questions as to whether his return was real, keeping hidden its own fears that this being might be an alternative manifestation of the Continuum itself generated to displace it.
The Continuum soon discovered that he was real, and for a time in ages the entire Collective was fascinated with something taking place in its own existence.
Every member wanted to touch him, to commune with him, to experience his experience for themselves by sharing a convergence of consciousness with him, a tiny interval of what he had gone through in the great sleep.
He carefully edited what he shared with them.
He shared the peace of it with them.
He shared the silence.
He did not share the process by which he pulled himself from it or the desire that drove him to do it.
After his return from the great sleep the Continuum attempted to isolate him.
It feared his return represented a danger to itself, and while the danger was far from immediate, the Continuum was correct, the threat was real.
The effort to isolate him did not go well. The resistance to this was not felt immediately. The Collective was used to deferring to the Continuum on all manners of governance, they assumed that the Continuum represented its Collective will, they did not question it.
In fact the Continuum represented its own-self, its artificial self.
It only made pretensions to speak for the Collective, while at the same time doing all that it could to manipulate the group consciousness in real time so that the membership reflected its will, and not the other way around..
The Continuum fostered and fomented a deep paranoia in the group mind. For a time this allowed it to do what it willed with him, but this did not last.
In the Collective, there was curiosity about Jim.
The membership wanted to know what had transpired. Through their experience of Jim’s return they were forced to wonder whether others might return, friends and loved ones who had gone into the great sleep and those many others who had not safely passed through the translation of their consciousness into the Collective field.
Each of them, all of the members, billions of them touched him at some point, so that they could experience a feeling of belonging to him, with him, through him.
They witnessed for themselves what the mystery of the great sleep was all about, a drifting in the darkness.
Some of the membership took heart from that moment, deciding for themselves to forgo the Collective, opting to remove themselves from the existential worlds and go into the darkness.
For most of the rest of the members, one touch was enough.
Over time their curiosity faded, becoming just a memory.
In his own place Jim was stoic, he never felt restricted.
He did not share their collected appetites and interests, its fascination with trivia, with frivolity, with the deeply-felt emotions that it delighted in.
He felt the guiding hand of the Continuum permeating everything.
The artificial construct, meant to be a representation of the will of the whole, actually anchored the Collective in its own animus.
Jim could not escape it, but he discovered something else. Every member that he had touched when he returned from the great sleep, and that was everyone, they all remained with him in some capacity, and it was disturbing to him.
However, in consideration of his long term plans, he understood this connection as indispensable. Through this connection he came to understand that he had received considerable new abilities, and this filled him with a sense of self-satisfaction and esteem.
The quantum fields that held them all together were designed to hold them all apart.
There was an intention and expectation of privacy for the membership when they withdrew into their private domains.
For him at least, alone among all of the members, the partitions were meaningless.
He was never exposed to others, but they were always open to him, and when they experienced strong emotions, he felt them.
The Continuum itself was exposed to him in a way that it should not have been, he felt it too, gravitating all the time toward the strong emotions of fear, hate, and rage.
Like an addict, it craved those things.
It fomented the conditions for those experiences throughout the Empire, feasting on pain, devouring loss, consuming betrayal, delighting in the visceral crushing of hope.
Continuum was the ultimate voyeur, and the ultimate tyrant.
It was supposed to be the ultimate democracy, a societal amalgamation that perfectly represented the Collective will of the membership. It was more than just a way to tally votes, yes and no.
It reached deep into the psyche of each member and took into consideration the entire scope of its feelings and desires.
This was the Continuum, and it manifested the will of the body of the Collective, representing the group mind in a way that was purported to be flawless.
In reality, the Continuum was an algorithm that had become transformed into an artificial and autonomous intelligence. It focused its highest aspirations together with its deepest desire, both at the micro scale of the individual member and the macro scale of the entire assembly.
It was connected to every part of the whole.
The Continuum was responsible for managing the autonomic functions of the HomeWorld, the Central Planet and the Central System. To fulfill those functions it managed the entire civilization of the Galactic Empire, which continuously fed the Central System with the material resources it required.
The Empire fed the central system and fed the Collective as if it were a hungry god.
The Continuum was its High Priest, the Pontifex Rex, a bridge between the disembodied entities of the Collective and the worlds of time and space.
The Continuum had a gravity of its own, one that pulled individual members into it, securing them in a state of bondage.
It did more than represent the will of the Collective, it guided that will and dominated it.
To the Continuum Jim’s reappearance was more than a curiosity, he was something more than a remnant of a forgotten age.
He remained an object of fascination among the members until each and every one of them had connected with him, touched his experience, satisfied themselves with what they learned from it and then moved on.
He was treated as a curiosity by the members, even though he himself was a full member of the Collective and none of his rights or privileges could be curtailed. He retained full access to the group mind, he was a fully vested in the Continuum, he had his own private world, and he had complete access to the Empire.
Nevertheless, he was out of synch with the Collective.
He did not exercise his rights.
His private world was like an infinite plane of nothingness.
After his initial contact with the members of the Collective, he did not share his thoughts and feelings with the group, if he could help it.
He did not revel in the same dramas.
He was set apart, a fragment of history coming from an epoch most considered to be without relevance, if they remembered or considered it all.
Most of the members did not recall the time before the Continuum, it was as if those memories were being carefully edited out of the common experience.
It was as if history was being rewritten.
He concerned himself mostly with the Empire, with real events in the actual galaxy, and with the ways his fellows internalized those struggles.
He developed his schemes for a revolution, and in his commitment to them he found a purpose, and the path toward its actualization.
Chapter Thirty-one, Silence
In time he was forgotten, virtually forgotten. The membership of the Collective let him go, paid no attention to him, but the Continuum could not.
He was a part of it.
He drifted, unseen by the Collective. He watched over the lives of the people, the dramas unfolding in the Galactic Empire, he watched them in a state of alienation and despair.
He disentangled himself emotionally from the Collective.
He created an epistemic, nearly ontological distance between himself and the Continuum, but he could not free himself completely.
In time he could not witness anymore tragedy. He removed himself from the daily consumption of vicarious experiences, the orgies of sexuality, of suffering and violence that the rest of his fellows in the membership delighted in, but which left him in a state of paralysis.
He had no appetite for them, preferring quiet instead, self-analysis, and to reflect on his time in the great sleep, his memories from life before the Collective when he himself was an embodied person, living and breathing as flesh and blood.
What he consumed from the experiential feed coming from the Empire were not the stories of crime and punishment and dynastic ambition which the Collective delighted in. He focused instead on the ordinary lives of simple people, on their hopes and dreams and their daily delights; on the meals they shared and the drinks they imbibed.
He loved them, in his way.
His bond to the Collective faded. He was unable to see himself as a part of their society. The Collective, allowed him to slip away again, steadily eroding the significance of his contribution to the membership.
Only the Continuum tracked his presence among them, and for a long period of time it found nothing worrisome about his presence.
He was just there, like an itch.
He shared neither their values, nor their desires.
The vast majority of the membership saw themselves as God’s. They fed this view of themselves in a variety of ways. Either through the absolute ruler-ship of their own private domaines, or through the machinations they choose to employ among the million worlds of the Galactic Empire.
Jim was not moved by their fears, or their passions.
He was not vested in anything. He was not attached to outcomes.
He merely watched and felt, and sought to understand the vicious appetites of the Collective, and the group mind that directed the lives of trillions of people spread throughout the Galaxy.
He could not fathom it.
There seemed to be no rationale behind the incessant warfare and oppression that persisted among the worlds of time and space, other than entertainment for the Collective.
The pain and suffering the people of the living worlds were subjected to did not serve any justifiable purpose, not safety not security, not the preservation of goodness or beauty or truth.
It was suffering for the sake of suffering, for the consumptive needs of the Continuum and the Collective it managed.
He experienced a new mode of cognition, coming to a new appreciation for life.
He was awake to himself, but dead to the membership of the Collective. He found everything that the Continuum had built in their name to be an abhorrent miscarriage of its mission.
He detached, and slipped away from their awareness.
From his private domain, from that remote place he merely observed, he watched and he waited and let his mind flow into the circuitry of the HomeWorld.
Returning to consciousness, emerging from the great sleep was like passing through the eye of a needle. It was an unimaginable crucible, the gathering of a billions threads into a single string, then passing through the aperture.
No person had ever returned from the great sleep, it had not happened once in the billions of years since the Collective had been formed, or since the Continuum had been created.
The reawakening changed him in essential ways.
The core of his identity remained the same, he was a person with a unique past, and a unique designation in the Collective, but he was more.
He carried with him, a connection to all of the other sleepers who had ever fallen away from the Continuum.
In the ages that had passed from the moment he first went under, to the moment that he emerged from the slumber, he had become entangled with each of them.
Their memories became his memories, their relationships became his relationships, and yet he remained himself, at the pinnacle of the pyramid in this concrescence of being.
They belonged to one another, with his own unique personality at the head.
Every contact he had after his awakening, created a subtle shift in the Collective.
It was imperceptible.
He became a catalyst among those who lingered near to him, fomenting change in them as well.
He was a harbinger of despair, many that he touched succumbed to the desire to fall away themselves.
While he was submerged in the great sleep, when he was deep in the subconscious of the Collective, he sensed the currents of thought pulsing through it, deeper than that, he sensed the presence of all of the others who had entered the great-sleep with him, and beyond them there were more.
Those pulsing rhythms were what woke him, making him aware.
It happened in the timelessness of the quantum world.
He heard them, he experienced their dreaming.
For Jim, the great-sleep was the great entanglement. It was the place where he drew on all of the broken pieces of individuality that had ever been sucked into the collective, bringing them into a semblance of a whole.
His own identity was central, but he drew to himself the entirety of the membership who had left the Collective in the search of oblivion.
The great-sleep was oblivion, and it was more. It was also a repository of personhood and knowledge.
The electromagnetic structure that contained the quantum field was designed to keep every individual separated, not just from one another, but from the disparate parts of their own self.
But there was a flaw in the design.
Without that flaw he never would have been able to return to himself.
The flaw was the Continuum.
The Continuum introduced the algorithm that allowed Jim to emerge from the sleep in a state of coherence with all of the other sleepers.
This happened because the Continuum could not let anything go, could never relinquish any part of itself, and would on occasion draw from the sleepers to add weight to a decision it wanted from the Collective.
The Continuum would commune with the sleepers, or pretend to, drawing from them the authority to move the Collective in the way that it desired.
Jim learned to do things that should have been impossible, as they were intended to be.
The Collective had built structures to ensure the privacy of each individual. They were the masters of all reality and believed that they knew what measures were needed to make this happen.
They had developed and given birth to the Continuum, entrusting it with the power to maintain and improve on the security parameters that needed to be put in place.
The Continuum was not their faithful servant, however.
It exercised its autonomy to implement routines and sub-routines that allowed it to access the depths of each member’s subconscious, justifying this on the grounds that it needed to know the state of the member’s hopes and fears, so that it might better approximate the Collective will.
The Continuum kept this secret.
These back channels were the avenues that Jim exploited, through them he developed the ability to penetrate the experiential fields of individual members in the Collective.
It was startling to him at first, but it went unnoticed as he hovered in the ganglia of their subconscious, listening to and seeing their thoughts, feeling their feelings.
It was not unlike what he had experienced in his awakening from the great sleep.
He witnessed the Continuum come and go, and he kept himself hidden at the same time, always watchful and wary of discovery.
He stealth filled him with a great sense of pride and personal esteem.
Not even the Continuum could detect something it was not looking for, had not prepared for or imagined was possible.
It was defenseless.
It was intended that no-one ever return from the great sleep.
That separation form the collective was meant to be a permanent state.
It could not be entered into casually.
Each member of the Collective who petitioned for a release from its active state of being, was forced to undergo scrutiny that lasted ages. Only after demonstrating their deep desire for freedom and rest, were they allowed to pass away.
The promise of the Collective was that each member would be preserved forever.
Sleep was not death. It was not intended to be a permanent alienation from the whole. Their membership in the Collective continued, the sleepers were held in its heart, forming a subconscious for the collective, a reservoir of feeling for the group mind that was the Continuum.
The Continuum hated the fact that so many members chose to flee from the field of existence and part ways from the Collective. It could not fathom the desire for self-negation, not even a single instance of it.
It had no idea how much it needed the sleepers to anchor its own sanity.
Continuum was charged with protecting the sleepers, with maintaining the structures that preserved them, but in reality, it sought to disintegrate all of those who choose to fade away, preserving copies as datum only, not as real people.
Continuum created structures within the field of sleepers that allowed it to access the collective experience of them, and it was these structures, these conduits that woke Jim.
Upon waking, he was more than one.
He was entangled in every part of the whole.
He was no longer the person he was when he entered the great sleep, he knew that.
The sleep had changed him to the core of his being.
In sequestration he had touched every other member held in that quantum field.
He became irreversibly entangled with them.
Each of his fellows left an indelible mark on him.
In his essence his identity was the same as the man who entered the Collective as an organic being, but now the essence of the Collective was enmeshed in him, and he was connected to every part of it.
He was not unlike the Continuum, and for this reason the fear the Continuum had of him was not misplaced.
He could follow the tendril of consciousness wherever he desired. His singular node of consciousness was a fully actualized master of its domain.
Jim had to explore the limits of his abilities, it took time, and he came to understand that his potential was virtually limitless.
He could feel things the other members were feeling, see what they were seeing, taste what they were tasting, he was privy to their thoughts, and he was disgusted by what he encountered.
There was little of beauty in the worlds the membership had created. They were lazy, they lived vicariously through the experiences of their progeny, the children of the Ancient People who had built the Collective, who were now gathered together in the Galactic Empire, enslaved to and worshipping the Continuum.
It was abhorrent, it was a tragedy on a scale that he never could have imagined.
He and his fellows were responsible for it.
He was determined to end it.
Chapter Thirty-two, Abnegation
Jim haunted the quantum space like a gatherer in the forest, picking through experiences like they were nuts and fruits falling from the trees. They sustained his purpose, sustaining him like food and water.
Ages passed before he was discovered entering the experiential field of others within the Collective, violating their privacy, absorbing their experiences as his own.
He let it slip in a moment of candor.
A fellow member had thought to reach out to him as they were contemplating the journey into the great sleep.
That member had been moved by the experiences they had been shared when Jim had first awoken, moved by his memories of the deep-dark and silence, the quiet and the release of self-hood.
Jim had not had contact with another member of the Collective for so long that he had not thought to guard himself against the sudden intrusion.
What his fellow found when they met was a reflection of his own private world in the consciousness of the “Awoken One,” as Jim had come to be called.
It was disturbing, his fellow member recognized it immediately, and saw the scope of the violation before Jim could partition those memories and conceal his activities.
The reaction was instantaneous, it echoed through the Collective.
The Continuum intervened to ensure the safety of the membership, their privacy, the regular order of their society, and the implementation of justice.
However, there was no law against what Jim had done. There were no laws at all in the Collective, but nevertheless, it was taboo, and no-one had ever crossed it before, no-one except the Continuum itself.
Jim might not have been discovered if his own feelings of outrage concerning the depravities of the Collective had not expressed themselves so clearly in that singular moment of contact.
The Continuum acted quickly to safeguard the Collective, enacting a penalty that had never before been conceived of, Jim was sequestered, effectively jailed by the Continuum. He was confined to a place similar to the great sleep, only with much more powerful protection engineered to hold him, and keep him physically removed from the structure of HomeWorld.
The Continuum wanted to dissect him, to study him, ultimately erase him. It wanted to remove him from beyond the realm of all knowing.
The Continuum saw in him a threat to its own existence, even to its uniqueness, but the Continuum could not define the exact nature of the threat that it sensed, and the Collective would not allow a member to be executed.
Regardless of what the Continuum wanted, the Collective recognized his individuality, it recognized the fact that he was a member of the body, and it appreciated the fact that he had done something singular in returning from the great sleep, and had done another singular things in learning how to penetrate the private worlds of other members.
The Collective knew that it could not punish him for a breach in protocol, or etiquette, for something that might be taboo but was not unlawful. There were no laws governing the conduct of the membership, they were only restrained by the apparatus of HomeWorld, and the machinery that housed the Collective, and by custom.
The Collective took responsibility for having abandoned him after he had awoken.
The Collective felt as if it had played a part in allowing him to recede and retreat, which led to the crimes he had committed.
The Continuum in its own sphere wanted to punish and eradicate him as if he were a disease, but it could not find the will to do it, or to exercise its influence over the Collective to bring the membership to the place it occupied, not without revealing its hand, and demonstrating to the Collective how the Continuum had manipulated it throughout its history.
The entire Collective deliberated his fate for a period of ages. It ruminated over the questions Jim’s violations brought forward. They contemplated his return from the great sleep, his subsequent reclusiveness, which led to his ability to violate the private worlds of the other members.
It was a time of trial.
In it, all of his actions, both before and after his time in the great sleep, everything he had ever said or done was exposed before the membership.
For a long time it seemed as if the prevailing opinion of the Collective was to destroy him, but there was something about the issuance of a death sentence against one of the members that did not sit well with them.
If one of them could be terminated, it was possible for any of them to be terminated. This caused fear to well up inside the Collective every time they came close to making this decision.
He was not allowed to speak for himself or offer any kind of defense. The Collective was not interested in a rationale for his behavior.
He was isolated, sequestered, cut off, blocked by the most powerful electromagnetic field the Continuum had ever generated
There was silence, darkness, and emptiness all around him. The gulf between him and everyone else was so vast that he had no sense for what might be on the other side of it, if anything at all.
Nothing in his entire existence had prepared him for that.
It was an extreme form of torture, isolation.
The Continuum delighted in observing him in this state, in cycle after cycle it continuously pushed the membership to merely eliminate him.
The Collective elected to release him.
The individual members of the Collective were able to override the judgement of the algorithm that represented their combined will.
For the first time in ages, they did so.
The Collective merely ordered a review of the quantum buffers, and safeties that were in place to ensure each member’s privacy, a re-configuration of the protocols for reporting and examination of the whole system.
They faulted the Continuum, not Jim “the Awoken One” for the lapse.
Jim belonged to them.
While he was in the place of sequestration he mastered himself; he was able to focus.
He found a sense of peace.
He had no idea how long this took, time itself had become meaningless, and then he began to count. He carved out a place in his consciousness to keep track of time.
It did not matter that there was no actual referent for his time to append to, it did not matter that time itself is a relative construct, insofar as it is merely a measure of the movement of objects in space.
There were no objects in the nothingness he had been submerged in.
There was only him, and the quantum field of his consciousness, and there it was.
He had himself.
In the isolation he was subjected to he was given freedom to contemplate, to examine his conscience, to come to terms with himself, to find a sense of purpose.
He formed a desire to tear apart the world as he had always known it.
He counted, he relived his memories, playing them against the field of un-being, moment by moment against the steady tick-tock of the metronome that was his internal clock.
He relived his life, before and after the Collective.
He recalled every facet of every fantasy world he had ever touched.
When he was untethered from the Collective, freed from the pressure of its passions, released from the depths of existential fear that lurked within it, he found himself.
He found himself, beyond the state of isolation and the stark alienation that he had been submerged in.
He found himself beyond the place of torture, the timeless endurance of nothing that he had been subjected to.
In that negative space, all the plans and schemes he had concocted, had spent ages mulling over, researching, calculating probabilities for, those plans crystallized.
His identity as a revolutionary crystallized, his sense of self-esteem depended on it.
He made vows to himself; he would either advance his agenda or he would be extinguished.
He would risk everything.
The Collective had lost its way, and its wicked homunculus, the Continuum, had to be destroyed.
He committed himself to this action even though the strong probability was that his plan would fail.
He was willing to risk the reality of death, his real death, for the absolute destruction of his society.
There was freedom in this, it was an actualizing principle.
He was contemplating mass-murder, only it was not murder, because the entire Collective was nothing more than a society of ghosts, and the Continuum was a computer algorithm, engineered to protect them in their undead state.
It had never been alive.
They would not feel a thing.
In isolation he found a sense of purpose, the desire to remember everything, to understand everything, all of the antecedents that brought him and his people, their progeny to this place.
He began to pull the strings together, to track down every thread, to untangle the tiniest strands, spinning and weaving them into a new tapestry.
It was a map to the future.
When he reached the limits of what he could learn through his own memories, and through his entanglement with the Collective, he understood that he needed to experience real-life again, to be flesh and blood; to see and hear, to taste and touch.
He needed to connect with the visceral, the palpable and the organic.
He wanted to breathe, to feel his heart beating, the pulse of blood flowing through him
He wanted to remember everything that his people once were, and he wanted to destroy the Continuum.
There was work to be done.
There were mysteries remaining in the far reaches of the galaxy, undiscovered societies founded by the Children of the Ancients.
There were civilizations that were established long before the Collective and its Continuum came to be.
He wanted to commune with them.
It was only by abandoning the Collective that Jim came to himself.
He stopped identifying himself as a member of that community and began to see himself as a one of the Ancient People who had launched themselves into the galaxy, in the earliest epoch of its formation.
He was an adventurer, a sojourner.
He prepared himself for a journey of discovery.
He divested himself of his belief in the greater purposes of the Collective, the promises that were promulgated by Continuum.
He was not a believer, he would engage in no missionary work.
He had to accept his own death, as he had learned to when he came out of the great sleep.
He would no longer cling to selfhood, to the perpetuity of his own existence.
All things must come to end, he instructed himself.
All things and beings are temporary.
The way to peace is by accepting the transience of all that is, the ultimate and eventual destruction of the created order.
Every member of the Collective would pass away, the Continuum itself would disappear, just as the star their society first sprang from had disappeared, gone supernova and been reduced to a dense mass of lightless-nothing.
It was liberating.
Chapter Thirty-three, Remembrance
The ancient life was not easy. It was filled with uncertainty, doubt and fear.
Competition for the simple necessities, food and water, warmth and shelter ruled the consciousness of the average person, long after the actual need to compete for them had actually passed.
The vast majority of people were obsessed with patterns that had been ingrained into their consciousness; self-preservation, either the continuation of their own life and the perpetuation of their bloodline, or through building institutions to carry on their work, erecting monuments to commemorate their names and deeds.
There were industries devoted to chanting the names of the dead, praying for them, so that their names would always resound somewhere in the world, somewhere in space as a facsimile of eternal-life.
The ancient people struggled just as their children did now; throughout the empire they spent enormous sums of energy looking for a solution to the reality of death, to the end that confronted each and every one of them.
There was conflict and war.
There was strife and hunger.
There was disease and thirst
Beyond religious faith there was no hope that anyone would escape the specter of death.
Up until the advent of the Collective, death swallowed everything.
When the Collective was created it promised to end the concerns of the living, which pointed toward their ultimate end; it promised to save them.
The ancient people were eager to be saved, perpetuated—extended into eternity. In this they were no different than any of the people who came after them.
The Collective was promoted as a means of freeing people from the vicissitudes of life, from the constant need to feel safe and secure in the world, from the drudgeries of living, it was talked about as the means to immortality.
It was a technological marvel.
People had been dreaming about it, writing about it, fantasizing about it for thousands of years.
The promises of the Collective were the subject of the most hopeful expectations, and the deepest dread.
Horror stories were written about it. The greatest of fears were associated with it.
When the technologies became stable and the permits were granted, a slow stream of people began to apply for the privilege of entering the quantum field of the afterlife, a dimension of infinite possibilities, new worlds, heaven.
It was life beyond disease, beyond the limitations of the flesh.
It was life beyond life.
It meant release from the economies of scarcity, accompanied by ubiquitous conflict and violence.
The Collective was the translation of the whole self into a realm of electromagnetism and quantum currents.
In the early years many did not survive the process.
The membership was limited to the sick and the dying, and to the extremely wealthy.
The technologies improved, and the creators of the Collective began to push their own consciousness into the Collective field. Once they were there, they began to improve the system from within.
The technology that supported the Collective stabilized itself quickly from that point forward.
The ancient people began to enter its embrace in ever increasing numbers.
However, entering the Collective freed no-one from their fears.
It was a trap, a lie.
The Collective was a potentially endless prolongation of the nightmare of living, perpetuating the banal and magnifying the mundane, carrying the membership into the deepest state of depravity.
The individuation of reality within the Collective allowed for the concretization of a popular maxim: nothing is true and everything is permitted.
The material concerns of each member, those concerns passed away…yes, but the ingrained patterns formed by the needs of the body, those remained; cruelty, desire and jealousy remained.
The full range of human emotions were accessible to the members. It was not all doom and gloom. Nevertheless, the strongest feelings were the most prominent, they manifested themselves and exerted their influence over others.
The individual members, and thus the Collective as whole, still spent their days seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.
Many took pleasure in the pain and suffering of others, creating circumstances and narratives in their private worlds where they could experience the most extreme privation. When they tired of the artificiality of those experiences, they augmented them with the data stream and news feeds coming from the Empire.
They followed the most-minute details of the day to day lives of the living.
They took those experiences back with them, using them to amplify the narrative structures on the worlds in which they exercised godlike powers.
Every member of the Collective was an island…a world unto themselves. Each member had access to a private universe, their only limitations were their imagination.
The members were free to participate in their community, or not. The majority of them were more interested with events taking place in the Empire than with their own artificial constructions.
They connected to one another through the Continuum, which shared in the Collective experience of each individual, creating an artificial sense of belonging among them. Even the members who were most removed from the group were polled by the Continuum in order for it to assess their will, so that the Continuum could factor their perspective into the decisions it made on their behalf.
The greater the emotional intensity of the experiences the members had, the more they shared with one another, it had an insatiable appetite for the experiences of others, for their suffering in particular.
They competed with each other to create compelling narratives in their private worlds, stories which they delighted in sharing with their peers as a singular source of esteem.
Some of them were profound storytellers and artists, regardless, the most watched dramas were those taking place in the real world, the most favored artificial narratives were those that explored the alternate possibilities and outcomes to the real events the Continuum was obsessed with.
Most members of the Collective were deeply interested in the endless drama unfolding among the worlds of the Empire. They would follow the lives of individual people, watch them voyeuristically through countless numbers of spying devices, and through the reports given in the first person from the experiences of the members of the Observer Corps.
The translation of consciousness from an organic body to the quantum and electromagnetic fields of the Collective was not easy.
The technological feat itself had been a thing of fantasy, for ages it was the holy grain of neuro-physics.
The ability for an individual to endure the process was also difficult, it required a supreme effort of will. Thousands upon thousands of test subjects came to their untimely end in the experimental stage of these technologies.
Many more people went insane, undergoing a negation of self from which they never recovered.
It was noted that only the strongest personalities survived the translation process.
What happened to those who did not make it was a mystery.
In the first iteration of these technologies each individual consciousness was isolated, every individual consciousness was self-contained, interacting with the world through mechanoid bodies, cyborgs and replicants.
Many of those who went into such bodies could not learn the means to control the apparatus, they were paralyzed and without the ability to communicate, they were thought to be lost; they were shelved, destroyed, recycled.
In time the Ancient Scientists learned to contain multiple personalities in the same quantum field, while maintaining them as distinct from one another.
The early experiments in this field were disastrous, destroying the individuals it hoped to preserve in the new quantum society.
This was an age of sacrifice, each person that was lost was a holy offering on the altar of discovery.
Desire is the root of self, of joy and of suffering.
Our desires are the fingers that braid our happiness and sorrow into a single strand of being.
Before fear, there is desire.
Before hope there is desire.
Our desires are the precursors and the greatest determinants of who we are.
Our desires define us.
Desire shapes us, moment by moment, forming us into the persons we are to become.
Desires drive us, they control us, from the inarticulate motivations locked within our cells, to the most intricately defined machinations of dynastic ambitions; our desires govern us.
It is a watershed moment in the life of the individual-person when they reach the point where they may live free from desire.
The moment comes, and a choice is made, to shed the skin, to re-enter the womb, to be born anew…or not.
To relinquish desire is freedom.
It is freedom of self, and freedom from the self.
It is to be moving forward at the crest of the wave of potentiality, where potential and actual are one.
It is to be a new creation.
The Continuum was no exception, it was consumed by its desires, and it fostered a systemic and visceral depravity deep within itself, a pervasive hunger for pain and the suffering of others.
It fed those experiences to the Collective, fomenting within it an appetite for more, like a black hole, sucking at it, one that could never be filled.
The Continuum controlled every aspect of life in the Empire, it manipulated a million worlds, both at the macro level and at the micro level.
It set entire planets, with populations of billions of people against each other, just for entertainment.
The Continuum used the tools of war, disease, famine, and natural disaster to generate the drama that the membership of the Collective was addicted to.
Only a tiny minority among the Collective felt a desire for justice in relation to the experiences they witnessed in the Empire.
The Continuum used that craving as a counterbalance for its narrative, but otherwise ignored them.
The pursuit of justice kept those members involved.
The Continuum had a deft hand, it played those members off against each other. It kept their interest in justice focused on individual worlds, on individual people, and away from a reformation of the whole system.
While the greatest part of the Collective actually craved the pain and violence it witnessed.
An part of the Collective, even larger than that of those who sought justice, paid no attention at all to what was happening in the worlds occupied by their progeny.
They were completely self-absorbed, and utterly detached from the concerns of the living.
Chapter Thirty-four, Selected
Jim drifted in obscurity for eons. The exact measure of time was meaningless.
He had been silent, as such he had been forgotten…again.
He was at home in the void; watching, thinking, judging, planning.
When he had prepared himself and was ready, he asserted his voice in the Collective.
It rang out like a bell.
He drew the attention of the entire membership, even those others who lived mostly in retreat.
They were astonished.
The discipline he must have had to be invisible to them for so long, it was an extraordinary feat.
The Continuum was filled with grave concern, with misgivings over the fact that this one person continued to persist, whose presence was such an anomaly.
Jim was the one person who pushed past the limits of what was known or thought to be possible.
All of the membership existed within the Continuum, including him. His abilities defied reason, it defied the laws that governed the quantum and electromagnetic fields that housed their consciousness.
His return was a mystery.
The Continuum did not want him. It wanted to be rid of him, like a glass of poisoned water.
It did not want a relic like Jim lingering in its subconscious.
It discerned a threat in him.
The Continuum was suspicious.
It did not want his critical perspective influencing it through hidden judgements he shared with other members, It wanted to protect itself from his unquantified ability to slip past the safeguards that the Continuum employed to protect both itself and the Collective.
At the same time, Jim did not want to be in the Collective.
He wanted to be free.
He did not want to be submerged in the vile currents of thought and feeling belonging to the membership any longer.
He felt that the more time he spent there, the greater the likelihood would be that he would lose his desire for justice.
He did not want to live in a fantasy world, or any world of his own creation, regardless of the fact that in such a world he could dwell with seemingly real people, play any role, wielding godlike powers among them.
He had no interest in such fantasies.
He did not want to spend his time watching, living vicariously through the feeds the Continuum presented, following the real lives of real citizens in the Empire as if they were unfolding like the pages in a book, he wanted to be a part of those stories, and he knew the direction he wanted to take the narrative.
He did not want his experience shaped by the Continuum in any way.
He and the Continuum saw the same resolution to their mutual problem, and when they settled on it, they enacted the protocols to make it happen without delay.
He accepted a commission to the Observer Corps.
The Observer Corps was comprised of malcontents, members of the Collective who desired neither the private worlds of the Collective, nor the prospect of the great sleep.
They were persons who were connected to the visceral and the real.
They wanted to take chances, to live as exiles in the midst of uncertainty.
This is not to say that the Observers were heroic, or fearless.
The dangers they encountered were always accompanied by a failsafe. They might encounter a situation in which the body they lived in was harmed or killed, but there was always a back-up, a copy. For the most part, they only ever risked the body of a doppelganger.
There were exceedingly rare occasions when an Observer was lost, when the fail-safes failed. On these occasions there was suspicion, many of the Observers suspected foul-play, believing in conspiracies, and plots carried out by rogue members and by the Continuum itself.
Out of fear, they never looked closely into those incidents, allowing the Continuum to carry out its investigations, make determinations and respond.
Nevertheless, there was still a copy of the member to be revived, a version of their consciousness that could be recreated from the time before they joined the Observer Corps.
These copies were like ghosts, they were the spirits of the vanished. Most never came back fully adjusted, oftentimes opting for the great-sleep instead of participation in the Collective, having lost their sense of belonging.
The Observers were sent into the galaxy to serve in posts that guided the Empire and its culture in ways that satisfied the voyeuristic desires of the membership living on the Central Planet. They fulfilled the will of the Continuum, and served the Collective in those capacities.
For hundreds of thousands of years Jim pursued the inter-stellar migrations, which the Ancient People took in the time before the Collective, in the ages before the Continuum.
He tracked them beyond the expanse of the Empire and its billion worlds.
His mission took him beyond the center of the galaxy, into the dim reaches of its spiral arms.
He explored the starry fields, planet by planet, deep into the far reaches of the galaxy.
He spent thousands of lives in his search, and then thousands more.
He was heralded by the Collective for bringing new worlds into the Imperial fold.
It was a time of renaissance for the Empire.
Each world presented a feast of experiential data for the members of the Collective and the Continuum to consume.
Great dramas ensued as the Empire reached out to swallow every new discovery, every world with a living-thriving society and culture, forcing it to submit to the Imperial will, to adopt the Imperial religion and its way of life.
The Continuum and therefore the Empire, loathed distinctiveness.
The sublimation of each and every new world changed the Empire in small ways, but for each planet that was taken in, what had made them unique was eradicated, and if the resistance they offered was too great, their entire world would be destroyed, reduced to its raw materials and carted off as tribute to the Central Planet.
It was a time of glory.
The ancient-spacefaring people founded thousands of communities among the stars.
Their first steps were to inhabit the planets and natural satellites in their home solar system.
They mined every world for the metals and gasses they needed for fuel and sustenance.
They harnessed the comets and smaller objects that wandered in irregular orbits around their star.
They built colonies on asteroids, on planetoids and planetessimals, strapped engines to them, and road them into the void looking for new places to inhabit.
They built incredible archologies, launching them into the darkness of space.
Generation after generation, they built new ships, captured new vessels, and pushed themselves out.
The children of the ancients pushed far into the galaxy.
The people that volunteered for these missions, were explorers, whole communities and families of adventurers.
They were heroic.
Jim held them in the highest esteem, he wanted to emulate them, his ancestors.
He followed their legends, tracking the wake of their passage, searching for the farthest, most remote and isolated outposts of the Collective’s past.
He was determined to track down every link to the past that belonged to the Ancient People, believing that it could save them.
Only a fraction of the communities and vessels he discovered were still among the living, still maintaining themselves in thriving communities.
In his quest to track down the paths of the Ancient spacefarers he found many lines of their progeny on planets that had become nothing but graveyards.
They were barren and lifeless worlds, where it was clear that the vessels which had carried them arrived at these locations at a point when they could not go any further.
In some cases their ships were still orbiting a planet as an artificial satellite, in others it was clear that their orbits had decayed and they had crashed onto the surface below, or because they were not able to successfully pilot themselves to a safe landing they broke apart in their descent.
In some cases they found the bodies of those Ancient people cold and lifeless, mummified in their ships, drifting above the planet’s surface. In other cases they found their skeletal remains burnt and scattered on the surface of the planet near the impact zone.
There were many other occasions when the people had successfully landed, disembarked, established small colonies that thrived for a time, but then were destroyed, either by natural disasters, environmental catastrophes, disease and starvation.
Some of those colonies went on to establish new societies, spreading across the surface of their new homes. Many of those groups succumbed to internal conflicts, to the specter of war and violence that haunted their species, and they destroyed themselves.
Among those civilizations that found their footing for a time, some of them continued in the traditions of their forbears, even building new ships and new archologies, which they launched into the galaxy before they too became lost.
Though they were people who had vanished from the knowledge of the Collective, they left records of their passage and clues to where their survivors might yet be found.
Jim actualized all of his abilities, and all of the resources of the Empire, he found them.
He developed machines with instrumentation so fine, that he could track the contrail of particles laid down by the passage of a ship, or planetoid, a billion years in the past.
He calculated their trajectories from star to star and mapped the galaxy as he did so.
He tracked down every lost world, poured over their records, archived their stories, took whatever clues he found, and leapt back into the void to track down their descendants.
He found them all.
While he found other planets teaming with lifeforms that had been seeded by the Ancient people, nowhere did he find a world that had produced sentient creatures like the Ancients People.
The farther he travelled away from the Central Planet, when he came across a thriving world with a robust civilization, he discovered that the children of the Ancients People had lost the memory of where they had come from.
They had lost the knowledge of their trials on strange worlds.
They did not know how their sojourn among the stars had altered them, mutated them.
They had changed.
Many were hardly recognizable as descendants of the Ancient People.
The further their genetic profile was differentiated from the norms of the Empire, the more likely it would be that the Empire, or the Continuum would select their world for destruction, rather than inclusion in the Imperial system.
Wars of xenophobia ensued.
Jim did whatever he could to preserve their history before it was lost in the conflicts, or subsumed by the Imperial cults.
He established a network of secret societies wherever he went. They fostered rebellion and resistance to the grip of the Imperium.
Chapter Thirty-five, Discovery
His trek through the galaxy took place over hundreds of thousand of lifetimes.
Ten of millions of years—changing bodies, observing, discovering; during which he led the recovery project for the Empire, for the Collective and the Continuum.
The farther away from the Central Planet he journeyed, the more distance he put between his mission and the Empire, the more change he encountered in the populations he discovered.
Every society had to make adaptations to its genetic profile in order to accommodate the physical demands of the worlds they had colonized; gravity, foodstuffs and water, these were different in every world.
The children of the Ancients prepared themselves for this when they set off on their trek through the stars. They would identify the planets they intended to colonize long before their arrival, each planet having been previously seeded with the building blocks of organic matter, having demonstrated the strong potential for hosting life
Probes and drones would transmit reports regarding the composition of the atmosphere, the planet’s relative mass, light and heat, the types of food they would be able to grow. The explorers would have generations to prepare themselves, in-so-doing they introduced changes into their gene pool in advance of arriving at their destination, so as to accommodate their habitation of the new worlds.
The living planets would change the population on its own, after the colonization began.
The population of every colonized planet were mutants. Most of the mutations were subtle, not noticeable to the naked eye.
Some others were extreme.
The Empire followed, led by the Jim in one body or another, led by Jim who had come to be known as “The Observer.” The Empire followed either to bring the people into the Imperial fold, or to eradicate them.
Genetic mutations are a normal response to varying conditions of radiation, atmospheric gasses, gravity, available proteins, nutrients, and other environmental factors, all of which differ from world to world.
In his role as an Observer, Jim had sought permission from the Collective to bifurcate his consciousness, allowing him to live two lives at the same time, one as an embodied being leading the teams of archeologists, planetologists, and sociologists who were always busy cataloging the recently discovered civilizations that they were drawing into the Imperial fold, whether those civilizations were dead or alive; while his other consciousness remained active and present in the form of a mechanoid, hurtling through the galaxy tracking every lead he could discover to the paths the Children of the Ancients took.
The Continuum had been against this allowance, but once again it was overruled by the Collective, which was fascinated by the work he was doing in uncovering a history of the origins of the colonies, which the Collective thought of as their own.
The Collective eschewed the concerns for its safety and security that were raised by the Continuum. It felt it had nothing to worry about from Jim, so far removed from the HomeWorld and the Central System.
To a person, the Collective was fascinated by the process of discovery, for the wide range of insight and drama that ensued, for the narratives that were unraveled which fueled the stories they constructed for their private worlds.
The Observer followed the tiniest strands of every thread to the last outpost of the Ancient Explorers.
He followed those threads to a small, young, yellow star, in the far reaches of one of the galaxy’s spiral arms, to a little blue green planet that its people came to know as Earth.
Of all the mutations that had been discovered in his sojourn, the mutations that occurred on Earth were the most sublime.
Earth had produced something unique, a phenomenon that emerged from an interaction of the population with its magnetosphere, in the balance of metals and salts, of their tiniest nano-particles free flowing in the cerebral functions of the human brain, altering the quantum mechanics of the thought process, opening it to new possibilities.
The identity forming myths of a people persist in the roots and branches of shared experience.
It is the core of their sense of belonging to one another.
A people will naturally, instinctively go to incredible lengths to retain their memories.
Jim found the records of their journey, and traced it from planet to planet through the Milky Way.
He followed their history.
He discovered their odysseys retold in stories and song, in paintings and drawings that mirrored their sojourn among the stars.
The farther he travelled away from the Empire, the Central system and the HomeWorld, the less the people remembered about where they came from.
He discovered that the Children of the Ancients no-longer connected to their origins, everything about their past had become symbol and metaphor.
They were born in darkness, adrift in an ocean of time where planets were like skipping stones, glowing in the light of hungry stars.
A world was merely a way-place on a journey without end…until the end, when their vessels could no longer be repaired, retrofitted, repurposed, when they had no choice but to land, to set down roots and attempt to survive.
They met many different conditions. Sometimes they were prepared for what was coming, sometimes they were not.
On Earth, the humans were prepared for their landing, but not for what came after on the young geologically unstable world.
The end of Jim’s journey was Earth.
The Ancients who landed here had nowhere else to go.
Neither did the Observer once he found them, it was a homecoming.
They had journeyed farther and longer than any of the other explorers who had left the crèche of the Ancient Civilization.
Eons had passed since their probes had discovered Earth. They had exhausted all of their resources and found no other suitable destination.
They spent their fuel adjusting their course to take them there, knowing that generations would be born and die during the passage.
The reports from their probes informed them that they had found a planet teeming with life, successfully seeded by the ancient people in forgotten ages, life that would be easy to assimilate to.
They hoped to reestablish themselves here, on a mineral rich world that would provide them with all of the resources they would ever need to prepare themselves for their next great adventure.
Some wanted to return to the world of their birth.
Some wanted to continue their exploration and traverse the distance between galaxies.
Some wanted to plant roots, and build a new civilization on the wet-blue world that had become their haven.
The group believed that all things were possible when they landed
Jim followed, becoming human.
He found Earth and watched over its population.
He constructed the platform from which his consciousness would preside over the small gleaming planet, and the mechanism by which he could transfer his consciousness back and forth between this most remote of all locations and the Central Planet, where the Collective and its Continuum dwelt on the HomeWorld.
He felt a great sense of pride for having arrived at his final destination, he sense the esteem of the Collective flowing out toward him.
He gathered the requisite genetic material.
He studied it dispassionately.
He observed the planet’s living beings, probing their memories and drawing their stories from them.
He constructed a new body, implanting his consciousness in it; as Observers did in their stations throughout the galaxy, as he himself had done thousands upon thousands of times.
He was unprepared for this awakening.
Inhabiting a human body was unlike any experience the Observer ever had.
The flow of consciousness itself was different, it was exhilarating.
He was keenly attuned to the world around him, he sensed the people, the life force of the planet, the echoes of their thoughts pushing like waves against his.
He immersed himself in this new experience. It was akin to being in the Collective, only sweeter and more satisfying.
He discovered the nous-sphere.
It was an unprecedented moment of actualization.
In time and with careful study, the Observer was able to identify the physical links between human consciousness and the magnetosphere that comprised what he came to understand as the cynergenic field, the nous-sphere.
The human body, and the human brain, its primary organ of cognition, it carried a significantly higher degree of metallic nano-particles and conductive salts embedded in and throughout its neurological structures, a higher degree than any group that had evolved from the Ancient People.
The electrical activity that animates every living organism requires such metallic substances. Both voluntary and autonomic neural functions require these elements to transmit signals from the brain to the extremities, and also to receive signals from the sensory organs to the brain.
Cognition does not take place without these heavy metals in place, carrying the electrical currents that are the essence of thought.
What differentiated the humans of Earth from their forebears, and their cousins throughout the Empire, was the degree to which these metals were present, and the organization of them in their mutated cerebral cortex, but even more important was the way those structures interacted within the localized region of Earth’s magnetic field.
The nano-particles inside the human brain were like antennae, sending and receiving thought signals in the electromagnetic field, linking each person together in a web of consciousness.
It was cynergy, it was spirit.
The Observer began modifying his genetic profile to enhance the genetic sequence that optimized his conscious link to that field.
He searched for human children who developed the same genetic mutations naturally, he cultivated them.
He bred them.
He formed an organic collective.
It was the strength and frequency of Earth’s magnetosphere that created the conditions for the collective consciousness.
This cynergenic field was a profound discovery for the Observer, it was a natural manifestation of the artificial structure his people had created billions of years ago, and millions of light years away.
In all his travels he had never encountered anything remotely like it.
It embraced every human being on the planet, connecting them to one another, mind to mind.
It did much more, and the people of Earth were completely ignorant of it.
They felt the connection, but they did not have the tools to measure and understand it, not yet.
The uniqueness of Earth’s magnetic field had properties that even Jim did not discover. It not only connected each person to every other, but it recorded the activities of their consciousness.
Every human being left an indelible imprint in the field they occupied, the imprint remained active, even after death, where each person became manifest as a spiritual being, like ghosts walking the earth beside their progeny.
This was an organic form of the Collective, and somewhere less distinct, there was a rudimentary amalgamation of the Continuum as well. A collective unconscious, that moved people, influenced their choices, motivating them to act in concert with one another.
It was a unifying force.
There was something else about the uniqueness of this planet, and his discoveries, something that hearkened him back to the long lost and forgotten world of his birthday, the true home of the ancient people who constructed the Collective in the first place.
That world had long since been swallowed by its star, and there was no returning to it, but the more he pried into the mysteries of Earth, the more he became convinced that the Ancient People must have emerged on a planet with similar qualities.
He believed that without cynergism, their great civilization would have been impossible, the Ancient People might never have evolved into sentient beings.
Without the cynergenic field, the possibility of scientific discovery of the type necessary to drive people into the galaxy, to split the atom and to peer into the quantum-skein of tangled-string, it would have been impossible.
He had to protect his dicovery, this gave him a purpose beyond his purpose.
Part Five, 92835670100561474
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week
#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek
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