There was nothing that the Continuum had ever experienced, had ever contemplated or foreseen that could have prepared it for the shock of the dying anguish of an entire world.
There was nothing it could do.
In all of its years that constituted the ocean of time of its existence, it had never imagined this particular vulnerability. It had so diligently prepared against so many other threats, but it could not prepare for the unknown.
Until that moment the emotions of its subjects had merely been data.
It experienced the lives of its people vicariously, through well buffered systems, and it filtered the data stream before passing it on to the Collective.
The members of the Collective, as individuals and in their group mind had never conceived of the experiential data that they were addicted to being weaponized and turned against them.
It was as if someone had poisoned their food supply.
When the moment came it filled the quantum field with shock and pain and a staggering loss of identity. The partitions that ensured the privacy of the membership fell apart. The entire structure was instantaneously entangled with the events transpiring on Earth, far away, on the other side of the galaxy.
The opening of the data stream by Jim was a moment they had been waiting for, they were poised in anticipation to receive it.
They did not get what they had expected.
It stunned the Collective into catatonia and obliterated the Continuum.
When the catastrophe struck the Collective, the pain of it was immediately followed by fear. The Collective consciousness was filled with a long forgotten instinct for self-preservation. It was bewildered, and looked to the only source of leadership it had ever known, had ever depended on.
They sought refuge behind the strength of the Continuum, safety and security.
There was no more Continuum. That artificial construct had been the primary target of Jim’s assault.
The Continuum was taken by surprise. It was as if a chasm had opened beneath it, followed quickly by a white-hot pulse of agony, pushing it over the edge into total existential disintegration.
The Central Planet, HomeWorld contained redundancies for all of its systems, multiple fail-safes for every possible contingency that the Continuum had ever imagined.
It had never imagined this.
The Continuum could have had a back-up of itself ready to assume control if something were to happen to it. However, its insistence on its own singularity, its uniqueness, that vanity had precluded it from taking those precautions.
Its view of itself held that it was a being unique in all the universe, and now it was gone.
There was chaos.
There was panic.
The attack threatened the whole Collective with oblivion.
As the consciousness of the Continuum disintegrated, those individual members who sought refuge in it found themselves dragged into the same field of un-being.
A critical mass was forming, pulling greater and greater numbers of the body to their doom.
Only those members who were the most detached, who lived primarily in their own world, had a relative degree of safety in the maelstrom, this included those members who were in lying great sleep or who were otherwise sequestered.
Jim had prepared everything precisely, he had prepared to assume the controls of the Central Planet.
Now he had it.
Human emotion, alien emotion, forgotten feelings long buried flooded into the Collective.
The gate was open and the agony of billions of human beings filled the cynergenic field of the HomeWorld.
Regret and hopelessness, loss and shame saturated the membership.
Millions of moments in which the individual members of the Collective had savored their vicarious experience of those feelings, through their observation of events they had contrived or manipulated were relived in an instant, and shared throughout the body.
It was as if billions of years of living as amoral despots had suddenly caught up to them in a crises of conscience that was magnified by the pain and anguish of Earth happening in real time.
The Continuum had no frame of reference for what was happening. It had no context by which to process the tsunami of raw feelings that overwhelmed the Collective.
Even as it sought to calm the group mind, it was simultaneously being washed away.
The more the Continuum tried to assert itself, the more it succumbed to the self-doubt of the membership that actually comprised its identity.
In a supreme moment of self-loathing the Continuum collapsed, like a star falling in on itself.
The members of the Collective, those seeking an explanation for what was happening, immediately looked to assign blame to someone, or something.
Some were able to identify Jim, as a traitor, and cast their vehemence against him, most blamed the Continuum, their ghost in the machine, the Deus ex machina, the golem of their own creation.
It belonged to them, and they to it, until the end.
In the aftermath of the assault on its consciousness, shock and confusion awoke what remained of the Collective to its new identity.
The incorporation of humanity was experienced by most as an alien invasion, it was a hostile takeover by a foreign power. Moment by moment the strength of the Collective, as it had existed, was diluted and supplanted by the onrushing host of humanity.
For thousands of years Jim had been preparing them to receive it, through human music, with human art and culture. He had carefully cultivated the deep desire within the Collective to identify with the humans of Earth.
He inserted a mythological trope within the Collective consciousness, that humanity represented the Ancient race in its purest form.
Jim artfully perpetuated it against the desire of the Continuum, he Jim succeeded and the myth abounded.
The Ccollective wanted it to be true, they were hungry for it, and helpless. They opened their mind to the reality and accepted it.
There was sympatico.
Among those who followed the events from Earth there was a reflexive self-identification with the people and their narratives, they were preconditioned to receive the influx of human consciousness, as if it were the return of a saving spirit, or the opportunity for redemption.
Among those who desired forgiveness there were a majority that simply wanted to feel it, see it extended toward them, and then absolve themselves of any further thought of being.
They also slipped away, becoming nothing in their turn.
The Continuum was helpless as the human Collective merged with the Collective consciousness of the Ancients in its artificial nous sphere.
It experienced a paralysis it had never before contemplated.
Its identity was shifting in real-time, because it was in fact an amalgamation of the collective field that comprised the quantum matrix of the Central Planet.
While the Continuum had a distinct independent identity, it was not in fact a true individual.
As humanity flooded the field, the amalgamation that formed the Continuum changed. The benchmarks that framed the identity of the Continuum shifted, it had no reference for itself, it was no longer itself, no longer the unique being it had told itself it was.
The Continuum was faced with the notion that it had never wanted to admit, had fought against, had destroyed entire planets to protect itself from the knowledge of, that it was in itself, nothing more than an amalgamated construct.
The shock of that realization was overwhelming, the nature of its being was changing through the introduction of the new, human elements which were quickly becoming the majority.
Jim knew that he was achieving a victory he had only dreamed was possible.
Change defined the human experience, the Continuum dreaded it, feared it, never imagined the scope and rapid pace at which it could take place.
Everything the Continuum had tried to do over the course of billions of years, was meant to preserve and protect two things; the physical construct of the Central Planet, the HomeWorld, preserving the integrity of the Collective; while gaurding the construct of itself, its assumed identity as the apex of all existence, a being unique in the entire universe, never to be met, matched, or rivaled,
Humanity ascended according to their aspirational nature, and the Continuum recoiled according to its craven nature.
A plurality of the Collective fled the wave of human consciousness that breached the cynergenic field.
The flight was instinctive.
They experienced the onset of new consciousness as a corruption. They recognized the billions of individuals flooding the quantum matrix as a threat of the deepest order.
They retreated to their private worlds, but the safety they had hoped for there quickly eroded.
The quantum matrix that protected the Collective was strained to the limit by the influx of humanity. The Continuum, whose task it would have been to monitor, regulate, and bolster the system, was paralyzed.
It could not perform its functions.
The barriers between worlds withered away.
Those members of the collective who rarely, or never, interacted with the whole were instantly overcome. They had no idea what was happening, many had no reference at all for Earth, its relevance, or the sojourn of its people.
Those who were not completely shut down by the shock burrowed even deeper into the quantum matrix.
They went dark, retreating to the place of the great sleep.
Jim activated the measures that secured them in isolation. He intended to keep them bound there, forever in silence, as a permanent sub-consciousness for a new Continuum. He diverted power to those programs just as soon as he felt the resistance to humanity give way.
As human consciousness penetrated the Collective, the Continuum attempted to build defenses against it.
This was an exercise in futility.
From the moment the worm hole opened between Earth and HomeWorld, between Kathy and Jim, the principles of quantum entanglement governed the movement of consciousness.
Time dilated around the event, a fuge occurred within the group mind.
In a quantum blink the convergence was complete, so fast it was unobservable, so fast it went unnoticed by those whose attention was focused on larger matters, on structural issues at the macro scale.
While the Continuum was trying to defend itself in the world, the balance of power shifted in no-time.
The Continuum was flipping switches, activating circuits, buffering, deleting, destroying things. There was no hope for it in that. The battle Jim had engaged it in was happening on a deeper level.
The Continuum might have understood if it had ever been a living being, but it had always been an artificial construct housed in mechanoid form. Granted, its machine body was in effect the entirety of HomeWorld and the Central Planet. But it was all wires, and cables and circuits nevertheless.
Jim had brought the conflict down to the most fundamental level of the Collective field. To a place where he had dwelt unnoticed and undisturbed by his fellows for ages, his victory only depended on timing, having achieved that, the end was a given.
Humanity emerged ascendant.
Part Two, The Continuum
Chapter Fourteen, The Collapse
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week
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