Week 50, 2019
Jim was the quintessential Observer.
He watched the drama unfold in the space above the Central Planet, gathering data from millions of instruments, he gathered it all from his command position in the control seat that was once held by the Continuum.
In this moment he was free from the chemical sequences of a human body that might influence his decision making, there was no hunger or thirst, no anger or fear.
He was the Continuum now, his consciousness governed the vast apparatus of HomeWorld, of the entire Central System, of the machinery that once housed and protected the Collective.
He observed the battle between the Imperial forces and the rebels in their midst, and it was spectacular. The movements of the fleet, the light and heat, the surprise and gallantry, the courage on display, and the cold calculus of death.
It was a grand work of art, an epic moment worthy of poetry and song. And the entire thing was being recorded for dissemination through the Empire, as was his objective.
Jim was already editing the feed from the sensors, from the combatants, their communications, everything for transmission back to the million worlds of the Imperium.
The people needed to know that the fleet would not return to punish them. The news would fuel the rebellion and bring it to completion.
His aim was to draw the fleet in toward the Central Planet, as close as possible, and then grind it to nothing.
That is exactly what he did.
A surprise attack is always a surprise, everything that stems from it is received as the unexpected. Positions of safety and security become places exposed and vulnerable in an instant. Even those who plan a surprise attack are surprised at the outcome, whether by its success or its failure.
The rebel ambush of the Imperial fleet was over.
Thousands upon thousands of ships lay scattered, broken-up in pieces and breathing fire as they burned their last stores of oxygen and fuel.
They were counting the dead.
Their victory was absolute.
The surprise maneuvers were brilliantly executed and a blessing was given by the high priest to eradicate all resistance, to usher in a new era of justice for the citizens of the Empire.
The average soldier had no idea what that meant, neither did the low ranking officers. Some of the senior staff were uncomfortable by such talk, and the Observers among them were amused.
They gave no quarter.
They slaughtered everyone in the battlefield who had not previously signed up for the insurrection.
What every soldier and pilot in knew, was that the more people they killed the further up in rank they would climb, as long as some semblance of the old order held itself together.
They desperately wanted to clear the field and rise as the new aristocracy.
They destroyed every ship in the armada whose commanders had not been with them from the outset, regardless of whether they tried to surrender or not.
It was a blood bath, and the wreckage was already falling toward the massive gravitational pull of HomeWorld.
The victory was so overwhelming that none of the rebel ships had been destroyed, a few were disabled but their crews were already preparing them for the next phase of their endeavor.
Jim was reminded of Agincourt.
The rebels had no other plan accept to deploy the fleet against the Continuum.
They reformed and began to surveil the HomeWorld.
Jim had spent lifetimes preparing for this moment, dividing his consciousness into the machinery, waiting, hiding like a latent virus in the ganglia of its nervous system.
The Continuum was paralyzed.
It could not defend itself against Jim’s incipient approach, as system by system he took control of the physical structures.
The Continuum sought the path of escape it had laid down for itself.
The eons that Jim had spent as a ghost in the machine had prepared him for the work.
The circuitry was ever-changing, but the quantum field, within which all consciousness took place, that field was perpetual.
Jim’s mastery of it was like artistry.
The majority of the Collective, what remained of it, had been shocked into catatonia. Jim pushed them into sequestration, the members had become merely helpless witnesses to the drama unfolding.
Some were horrified, others were fascinated, all were powerless.
Those members who were not snuffed out were bewildered, they could not reach each other, they could not communicate.
They could not hide in their private worlds.
They were prisoners of the machine that had once been the source of their personal paradises.
They experienced the loss of it as pain. They had no belonging anymore, they were being torn apart and detached.
This left Jim undistracted and free to maneuver, to direct the defenses of the Central Planet, which was a task he was eager to perform.
He delighted in it.
He confirmed the threat approaching HomeWorld in the form of the rebel fleet, plotted the telemetry of each and every vessel, he placed the defenses of HomeWorld on auto pilot.
The rebel command structure was in a tight formation, like a school of fish packed tightly together for the safety of their numbers.
In the approaching fleet, all the senior commanders were members of the Observer Corps, all except one, El, the High Pries, who gave his blessing to the whole affair. This did not mean that they trusted one another, they did not, but they knew each other and they shared the same motive.
The rebel Observers planned to use every other commander in their armada as cannon fodder in their approach to the HomeWorld.
They expected the automated defenses of the Central Planet to be significant and they made a pact to protect each other.
It pleased them to no end to have the High Priest with them. He was the hero of the people, the most esteemed and beloved person ever known to the Continuum and the Collective. He was a man who had started out his life as a rebel, and was now returning to the rebellion at the end.
They would make him the new Emperor and bring him into the Collective.
They had no idea what was lurking in the background of his consciousness, the thing that was hidden there like a genie in the bottle.
These Observers betrayed the people of the Empire, the Continuum, and the Collective out of opportunism. They wanted to live forever without the rules imposed on them by the Continuum.
To a person, they wanted to expand the Empire to other galaxies, to govern real worlds as they had governed their private worlds as members of the Collective.
They had no code, no honor, no-nothing
They were striving for their own glory, for personal autonomy.
El knew that their strategic approach would put the bulk of the armada at risk, he could not understand the reason, but he allowed it to happen anyway.
Jim was piqued, his emotions were high, millions of years of careful planning and waiting were coming to their final culmination.
Jim had absolutely opposed the Continuum and its Empire, and now the Continuum was gone, He could find no traces of it anywhere in the system. What remained of the Collective was sequestered and shut down, the military powers of the Empire were on the brink of destruction.
All of his attention was focused on the task at hand. The final conflict with the most insidious and oppressive force that could ever have been imagined.
He despised the society his ancestors had created, the oppressive, artificial, all-consuming cowardice of it.
He had already become the greatest mass murderer in the history of the galaxy, and he was about to add to the body count.
He intended to wipe away the entire structure that undergirded the Empire, to plunge a million worlds into darkness, to cut them off from one another where they could evolve on their own, free from the oppressive, over-control of the Imperium.
The first and second phases of his great endeavor were nearly complete, he was on the cusp of victory.
He would replace the machinery of the Imperial order with something new, with something that would reignite the passion of the ancient people, a passion for freedom, exploration and risk taking.
He utilized deception to allow the fleet in, just so it could be eliminated and the entire armada reduced to a single vessel.
He was in the middle of the most intense action he could have ever imagined; taking control of the physical-mechanical systems of both the HomeWorld and the expansive Central System; correlating data from millions of sensors and monitors, actively suppressing what remained of the Collective, erecting defenses against a possible reestablishment of the Continuum, executing the defenses of the HomeWorld in preparation for the advancing Imperial armada.
Jim engaged the programs that were established to monitor the strength and health of the HomeWorld, he allowed the raw data to filter through, deciphering it and sorting it in the quantum field…in no-time.
His mind was functioning at peak performance, He was fully actualized, slipping in and out of the space beyond time.
Each and every node of his own consciousness that he had previously replicated and deployed throughout the machina that had been the body of the Collective and the home of the Continuum was brought back together in Jim’s singular consciousness, it was a grand coalescence.
It was dizzying.
Every reading from the vast array of instruments confirmed a collapse of the Continuum, but Jim needed to be sure that there was not a vessel somewhere in the space above or near to the HomeWorld, housing its twin, as Jim had housed his own self keeping copies and duplicates, replicants and dopplegangers on the move ages.
He identified an escape path but he could not detect a terminus point for it, and this disturbed.
Jim doubted his hypothesis concerning his nemesis, everything he knew about the Continuum and the unique structure of its personality confirmed that it could not tolerate a second version of itself, even a copy kept isolated and in stasis.
Jim understood that the Continuum needed above all else to believe that it was unique. This guided Jim’s summation.
However, the Continuum was also paranoid beyond belief, and Jim would not put anything past the demi-urge, it may have built fail-safes into fail-safes, and defied its own nature in order to protect itself from even a whisper of the possibility of a real threat.
The Observers in command of the rebel fleet approached the HomeWorld with great caution.
They were able to scan the systems of Central Planet through their mechanoid bodies that were ghosting the fleet, using tools that were unknown to the Empire itself. They confirmed that the Collective was catatonic, they confirmed that the Continuum was inactive. They were able to identify Jim’s activity, but they could not identify him as the main actor, or as the causal agent of the disaster.
His activity appeared to them to be an automated subroutine of coordinated defensive measures.
It emboldened them, they moved forward, but they and the fleet were unable to scan the activation of the weapons systems that were targeting it.
They did not see it until it was too late.
It was a glorious moment.
Jim felt it, and he struggled to suppress feelings that were peaking at levels he had no memory of experiencing before.
Jim reveled in his victory; his long sought after victory over the Continuum, his victory over the Collective, and his impending victory over the approaching Imperial fleet.
He wanted nothing more than to prolong this moment of engagement, to stretch it out forever like the elongation of time at the event horizon of a singularity.
This was a singularity for him.
As he watched the rebel fleet approach he wanted nothing more than to destroy it, to crush it, to send the survivors back with the knowledge that it was he who had defeated them, but he had competing desires, and some of them, the vainglorious ones, he had to set aside for the moment in order to concentrate on the task at hand.
He had to allow a remnant in, He had to allow them to land on HomeWorld. He needed something from them in order to complete his takeover of the Collective and the apparatus of the Continuum.
A small contingent of the observers among them had to step forward and freely give him what he needed, for as much as Jim was now the Collective, the collective could never be a society of one.
Jim also wanted credit, he wanted an acknowledgment from the Observer Corps and any other survivors of the Collective, he needed their endorsement of his hostile actions, he required their consent to pursue his agenda further.
He required a majority of the Collective to support him, if he were to accomplish his goal.
He needed to winnow the field a little further, to make them helpless in the moment when he would force them to make their choice, he had to leave them in a place where they would have only one choice.
It had to be life or death for Jim to prevail in the struggle in the final moment.
Part Seven, War
Chapter Forty-eight, Strategy
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week
#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek
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