Jim did not require the Continuum or its vast technologies to aid him in the creation of his fantasy world.
He did not need assistance because his world was one of simple idealism.
After spending ages in the dark, sleeping the great sleep, floating on the undulating waves of consciousness generated by the Collective, he was content to retreat into the silence of his private domain, making it into a seemingly infinite plane of light and peace.
He was looking for purity, thirsting for it. He wanted to purge his heart and mind from the rank hedonism that preoccupied the consciousness of the majority of the membership comprising the Collective.
He was seeking rest as if he had a physiological need for it.
He was free to do this, but it disturbed the Continuum.
He did not want to return to the great sleep.
He wanted to be alone.
He avoided contact with his peers, but he could not live in that place of pure light at all times.
His own fantasies involved the reorganization of the Collective, returning it to a noble purpose, the instantiation of altruism, and the destruction of the Continuum.
He could not let his thoughts manifest themselves in his private domain, if he had, the Continuum would have known.
He learned to buffer them.
Jim studied, he planned.
He understood that he needed to use the strengths of the Continuum against it; for the sake of his safety and security he needed to be able to harness its own technology, comprising the vast interconnected network it relied on for control of the membership, the Observer Corps and the Empire.
He had to be secretive, which meant immeasurable years of slow preparation, utilizing the skills he had developed through his return from the great sleep to insert subtle bits of code into the root systems of the Collective, codes that allowed him access to the machinery of HomeWorld, and the entire central system.
He needed to be everywhere, like the Continuum itself, he needed access to every subsystem. There was not a single thing that the Continuum touched that he could ignore. With the greatest degree of patience he pushed through all of the mechana of planetary governance.
The networks he inserted himself into revealed the weaknesses of the Continuum.
They exposed the things the Continuum gave the greatest attention to, what it was hungry for, its appetites and curiosities.
Understanding these things was crucial for Jim, through them he began to be able to predict the agenda that the Continuum was working toward. He came to understand its individuality as a distinct identity apart from the Collective which formed the basis of its unconscious.
Jim exploited those appetites.
He took advantage of those fears.
He tested the Continuum again and again, playing out scenarios throughout the Empire to measure the Continuum’s tolerances, using the real lives of ordinary people to prove his theories and to probe the depths of the Continuum’s liabilities.
He set his mind on a single goal, the complete destruction of the Collective and the Continuum. He believed he would find his own absolution through their annihilation.
He could not admit it, but he wanted the universe to forgive him, both for his own crimes and for all of the crimes the Collective had committed against the Children of the Ancients People.
He felt responsible, though he was not.
Like all members of the Continuum his own sense of self was magnified beyond the pale of reality. His own ego could not let him see himself in any other role than the role of both villain and hero, either or.
The crimes belonged to him, as did the responsibility for redressing them.
He could not let anything hinder his progress.
It was only through this ideation that he developed his sense of belonging
He committed more crimes in the fulfillment of his intentions, sacrificing individuals, tribes, whole nations along the way.
The outcome he desired was to harness the technologies of the Collective in order to liberate the Children of the Ancient People, and free them from the grip of the Continuum, from the hand of the Imperium which the Continuum had foisted on them.
He was a utilitarian to the core.
He was looking to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number, as he understood the good to be. He planned and schemed and allowed nothing to stand in his way.
He would sacrifice the well-being of an entire planet, offer it up for destruction, just as a feint, as a means of distracting the Continuum and the Collective from his own ambitions, to hide what he was looking for from their omnipresent watching.
He did it without remorse.
Jim tested the scope of the Continuum’s cognitive field
He paid particularly close attention to the threshold where he would encounter an individual member of the Collective. He tested its strengths and its weaknesses, its resilience and elasticity.
He found the electromagnetic barriers to be as fluid as any other thing below the quantum field. He sensed the tiniest threads that entangled the group consciousness together.
He saw the Continuum, like a spider at the center of the web.
He had probed it for eons, and he discovered that it functioned much like the immune system of a biological entity, identifying alien activity then meeting it with force, to cleanse itself of disease.
He found that the barriers could be stretched to the point of invisibility, and then he discovered that they were permeable.
The Continuum had access to the entire structure of the Collective, theoretically, nothing was hidden from it.
It accessed the entire field through an impossible series of security protocols and permissions that were meant to protect the privacy of the individual members from each other.
Those protocols were unnecessary, effectually they were the only barriers, they were just lines of code.
He discovered on the sub-quantum level, through probing his memories of his time in the great sleep and during his return to consciousness that the Collective field was one thing.
It was unified.
The Collective was truly a Collective, and the Continuum, in as much as it had come to control the group, he confirmed what he knew to be true about it; that it was merely an algorithm designed to protect the individuals from their fear and suspicion of one another.
He discovered proof of the vulnerability he had been looking for, it was not one thing, but rather it came from the dynamics that were in place to protect the integrity of the whole.
The Continuum, inasmuch as it functioned as a singular entity, nevertheless remained an amalgamation of the group mind.
It superseded the whole but was still comprised of it.
Changes to the Collective, had a direct effect on the Continuum. The narratives that the membership were obsessed with, if they could be manipulated, could be used to make subtle changes in what the Continuum was focused on.
During the eons and ages in which the members of the Collective were primarily focused on the status of their own private worlds, the Continuum became rooted in the notion of its divinity.
During the ages in which the Continuum was directing the formation of the Galactic Empire, the Collective became focused on the drama and interplay of the various hierarchies, such as the establishment of the Imperial Cult.
The Collective accepted new members from the Empire, and they brought with them their own deeply seeded beliefs about who and what the Continuum and the Collective were.
This created a feedback loop that reinforced the identity the Continuum had invested in itself.
Jim was able to test his theory and find proof of it. He discovered a means of manipulating the focus and attention of the Continuum, by shaping the interests of the Collective.
His sense of self and personal esteem were rooted in these activities.
Everything was mutable in the narrative field.
This was where he was determined to concentrate his efforts.
Jim began to shape plans in his mind and put them to the test.
It was time for action.
He discovered he could hide data in the bandwidth of frequencies that separated the individual members of the Collective, a place no one would think to look for the presence of a whole, cognitively active member of the group mind.
He took steps to divide his consciousness in ways that were forbidden by the Continuum, a replication and self-sequestration that was in violation of his compact with the Collective, in so doing he abandoned his oath to the membership.
He was fully actualized.
The divisions and copies of his identity he made were all versions of himself, all of them holding to the same purpose. Though each of them was autonomous, and any one of them could betray the mission at any time. Nevertheless they were him, and they dutifully posited themselves within those high frequency fields. Looking listening, watching and waiting.
He practiced deception, and the obfuscation of it.
He layered his true intentions behind a myriad of masks and false desires. He had to lie in his heart, he had to believe the lies himself.
Prevarication, he found, was just another frequency of thought. He could mask it, he became adept at it.
His entire life became a lie, a miasma of falsehoods.
He pursued his intentions in the middle distance, in the space between spaces, he became master of the in between and the up-side down.
He was the ghost in the machine.
Jim practiced the art of concealment.
He developed layer upon layer of security.
He became adept at deception.
He hid things, even from himself, and that is how he knew he could keep his secrets from the Continuum.
When he had acquired that confidence he slowly pushed his plans forward, placing safeguards for himself in the liminal space that would buffer him and support him in the event that he was discovered.
The veil was thin, but it was potent. He managed to sense the electromagnetic fields around him, to harness them to create false narratives within it, narratives that were ultimately accepted by the Continuum.
First he would insert something into the experiential field of an individual member of the Collective, then they would share it with others, exposing them to the lie.
Finally, when he told the lie himself, it resonated with the expectation that he had established in the group mind, thereby it did not arouse suspicion.
The things he wanted the Continuum to believe were taken for granted.
Despite this he could not prevent the Continuum from being suspicious of him, even though he was able to divert its attention away from his clandestine activities.
He grew in confidence and pursued his goal of building the framework that would help him succeed in pulling it down.
Part Five (a), Jim
Appendix Chapter One, Secrets
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week
#Emergence #ShortFiction #52WeeksOfSciFi #OneChapterPerWeek
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