Week 32, 2019
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 Those members that possessed it, who still clung to it were among the groups that had withdrawn from the drama of the living worlds.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.
Part Five, 92835670100561474
Chapter Thirty, Translation
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week
#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek
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