Earth – Part Four
On Earth, after the eruption of the Indonesian volcano, during the time that Jim was gathering the people together, forming them into enduring tribes, subtle changes began to take shape in the social and cultural traditions of the people.
The changes were primal.
The humans of Earth drew pictures in the soil with sticks, and painted them on the walls of caves to narrate their journeys and chart the path of their progress.
They understood the world in terms of images.
They were post literate.
They carved their hopes and fears into stones, and the faces of cliffs, in places that became semi-permanent homes. Generations of members would work on a single carving, the task being handed down from mother to daughter, and father to son.
In those carvings Jim could see the undifferentiated echoes of the memories of their previous sojourn among the stars.
Those memories lingered, they were intense and indelible.
Jim began to isolate the physical link that joined the current generation to its past in their genetic profile.
The stories they told about that time were confused and entangled with their current journey through the dark and sunless world in the years following the eruption.
They mixed colors and painted, projecting images of the future they desired, both the things they wanted and hoped to find, like food and water; and wanted more to avoid, a short life, a dangerous animal, an encounter with a stronger tribe.
The tribes were overwhelming concerned with safety and security.
Jim studied their art.
They depicted things no living person had ever seen, the memory of which they carried in their genes. Those images became stylized and fantastic, and in those stories, they made their ancestors into gods.
Jim augmented their access to these memories in subtle ways, slowly and cautiously at first, by altering their genome through the introduction engineered viruses.
The music of the people, the drums they beat, the rhythms they made, they pushed the stories of each tribe, each family, deep into the memory of its members.
Drums and rhythm operated as a visceral reinforcement of the memories that the human tribes passed down from one generation to the next.
It changed them, setting up successive generations to recall them, relive them, to transform those stories into a part of their living being.
Jim played to this phenomenon, he avidly worked to eradicate any form of written narrative.
Every tribe developed its own oral tradition. Stories were handed down from master to pupil. Paintings and images, carvings and sculptures became objects of religious ritual and devotion. People only engaged in their creation with careful attention, but music was at the heart of the people.
Each tribe found its own interpretation of the musical scale. They developed their own drums, their own pipes and horns and instruments made of string.
This was a great science.
The exchange of music between cultures was often met with alarm, and fear.
All music was recognizable as music, but the form that it could take, the beat, the measure, the timing, the tonal quality, these could create significant psychic disturbances in people when they heard and foreign and unfamiliar scale for the first time.
For thousands of years Jim worked to exasperate those differences, before finally bringing them together. The result were new traditions of overwhelming beauty and complexity. Which not only captivated human audiences, but enthralled the Collective as well.
Jim’s work in this field was a grand orchestration.
Even before the Indonesian eruption of 72,000 years ago, the culture of these Children of the Ancient People had been in a state of devolution.
They had fallen from star-farer to cave dweller.
Yet the Humans of Earth retained a faint memory of their ancestry.
The memory of the stars they had crossed had been preserved through the stories they told, and in the engrams of memory encoded in their cells.
For Jim, this was precious little to build on.
In order to proceed with his work Jim decided to violate all the rules of his station. He utilized all of the skills he had learned during his time in the great sleep, and in sequestration to conceal his activities.
In the satellite station far above the planet there was housed the full version of himself hosted in the mechanoid body that travelled with him to Earth, this was true of all Observers.
He connected that consciousness not just to one organic host, but to hundreds of versions of himself living on the planet surface doing the work he had set out to do among the people.
This was an extreme violation of the conventions he had accepted and agreed to live by as a member of the Observer corps.
Over time, he received the materials from the Empire to build a space station.
Then he constructed a secondary, covert operating platform. In that space he was able to carry out experiments and human subjects, to perform the science that would allow him to carry out the augmentations both in himself and the human population that he needed for the furtherance of his plans.
There were a myriad of for Jim to climb in order for him to accomplish his goals with the Humans of Earth, there were numerous channels to cross. Jim slowly and methodically plotted his course and followed it, adjusting only when it was necessary.
Step by step and generation by generation he introduced the genetic changes he required into the breeding pool. Modern humans emerged from these processes.
During their sojourn to Earth, the Children of the Ancients determined what their physical needs would be, long before they arrived at their new home they began to make those changes.
They had identified Earth as a suitable place to end their journey, even while they were still light years away. At that time they still possessed the scientific knowledge to carry out the task of altering their physiology in order that they might align themselves with the gravity and atmosphere of the distant planet.
They began to mutate their DNA, altering their genetic structure so that it would allow them to inhabit and thrive on the wet-blue world.
Destination Earth, it was their last hope for a home and haven.
Over the course of generations they adapted to those new requirements, doing their best to anticipate what their bodies would now require, which they based on a climate and ecology that they could only model through computer algorithms.
It was a process of continual adjustment.
Every time a new genetic sequence would be introduced into the body, they ran the risk of a virus springing up, some of which were lethal.
Many of the colonists were struck down in this process. It was an ongoing tragedy, and while they had prepared for it, it was painful nonetheless. It called for a continuous examination of conscience. It focused the crew on the existential dilemma which they all shared, pertaining to survival.
Some of them wanted to abandon their mission altogether, and simply direct their vessel into the nearest star, bringing an end to all of them in one great conflagration.
The technologies they depended on, which were also the cause of their transformation and eventual triumph, those technologies began to be shunned.
Change begets change, it is a never ending cycle.
From one point in time to another, nothing is ever the same. This is true, no matter how finely you measure the distance between points.
Everything is changing.
Those ancient spacefarers became humanity.
Once they arrived in orbit around their new world, a slow metamorphosis took place.
Their contact with the Earth’s bio-sphere presented challenges they had never encountered before.
Life on earth was aggressive.
They introduced a new genomic sequence into their bodies for their final transformation. This sequence allowed them to accommodate for it. However, through a constant exposure to viruses and bacteria their genetic constitution had become compromised.
At the most basic level they converged with the native life of Earth.
They became a new people, they belonged to each other and to their new planet entirely.
This process took time. It took many thousands of years, and by the time the transformation was complete, they had lost much of the knowledge of who they were, of where they came from, and the technology they had brought them to their destination.
Their triumphal achievement was the root of their undoing.
They left the markers of each change they had instituted in their genetic profile as a road map for Jim to follow in his own breeding program.
When Jim arrived on Earth, he was surprised and bewildered by what he found. Nowhere else in all of the Empire, among all the colonies, including those that had perished before being discovered, nowhere else had such a massive cultural devolution occurred.
Jim had barely begun to put the story together before the cataclysm in Indonesia occurred, changing everything for him and for humanity.
Jim decided at that moment on a course of action that he had long contemplated.
With the gene pool having been reduced to just a few thousand individuals he knew that he had the opportunity to improve on the genetic structure of the whole.
He plotted the future development of the species and began to work out the steps and permutations that he would be looking for as the new species developed over time.
Changes in cognition were the most crucial thing for him to accomplish, while broadening their access to their genetic memory.
With subtle interventions from Jim, the human brain slowly mutated, and in that mutative process Jim discovered an unintentional consequence, with the human brain retaining properties that were key to the things that he had been dreaming about for a billion years.
Once he discovered the path Jim built an inherent capacity to store nanoparticles of key heavy metals, like magnetite and lithium in the cerebral structure, like electromagnetic receptors emerging organically in the human mind, this attenuated higher order thought processes to the Earth’s magnetic fields.
His work established a cynergy between every human being alive, turning the entire planet into a field for cognitive development.
Through his work, humanity became connected, in what the twentieth century theologian Teilhard de Chardin called the nous-sphere, and from it, what his contemporary, Carl Jung called the collective-unconscious emerged.
This field of consciousness was atavistic, and unlike any symbiosis that had ever been achieved anywhere else in the galaxy, with the exception of the Collective. On Earth fter Jim’s minor interventions, the collective-consciousness emerged as a natural property of the human race, unique to physiological environment of Earth, manifesting in a way that allowed it to go unnoticed by the Continuum.
Jim experienced that moment of discovery as one of triumph, knowing that he had fully actualized the launch phase of his grand ambition, the destruction of the Continuum.
The existence of the collective-unconscious on Earth was the one thing that the Continuum feared. It feared such a development anywhere and wanted above anything to prevent it. Yet it never imagined that it could happen in this way, therefore it could not see it a possibility, and never prepared for its eventuality.
Few humans ever became aware of the cynergenic field, or that they lived within the dynamics of the nous sphere, even though everyone felt it. Until the twentieth century they did not even have the language to describe it, even though everyone was entangled in its cynergism.
The nous sphere was coterminous with Earth’s electromagnetic field, as such, it permeated all things. Only a small percentage of human beings were sensitive enough to discern it, but, lacking the tools to analyze it, it took millennia to even develop the language to describe it.
If a physiological imbalance were to cause a person to retain too great a concentration of the particles that attenuated them to the field, or too small, if an improper balance was struck the individual suffered because of it.
An imbalance could give some human beings clairvoyant abilities, clairsentience, clairaudience, so called psychic powers, extra sensory perception or telepathy.
Oftentimes these abilities drove many more human beings to madness, into schizophrenia and psychosis.
Understanding of these phenomena had to wait for the advent of written language, and then thousands of more years to pass before they could share their knowledge of these conditions and come to an understanding.
By then Jim figured it would be too late for the Continuum to do anything about it.
Analytics are one thing, represent one mode of understanding, but Jim also relied on the truth behind this maxim: the flesh remembers, it never forgets.
The record of our experiences are pounded into our corporeal form, cell by cell, it forms the basis of our intuition.
Jim had labored diligently for the augmentation of this.
Our bodies are a living witness to the events that shape us, handing down a coded narrative from generation to generation in perpetuity.
We are changed by every new experience we have, each moment of perception is a new thread sewn into the seams of our identity. These are the fibers of the spindle, they are the engrams of memory, protein by protein they are woven into the fabric of our lives, by the warp and shuttle of our daily doings.
Each strands is like a prisms through which we project our future.
Our unique and individual experiences are like a tapestry, sewn with precious metals, embroidered with gem-stones, they are an endowment, a rich heritage that we pass on to our descendants.
It is their only lasting inheritance, laid on the table like a convivial feast at the moment of each individuated inception.
We experience our inheritance in our dreaming, when we are transported to places and times that we know we have never been to, never seen, and yet they are as familiar to us as the contents of our own homes. When we talk with strangers as if they were our dearest friends, and see ourselves reflected in the mirror of their eyes, though we do not recognize our countenance or visage.
The flesh never forgets, it remembers everything.
The Ancient People were bipeds. They stood on two feet just as the humans of Earth would in their time.
The longer the ancient spacefarers remained on their journey among the stars, the more they adapted their physiology to the unique exigencies of their vessel, and of deep space. In the case of the group of colonists that eventually landed on Earth, they had adapt themselves to conditions of near weightlessness prior to their arrival. The conditions of deep space altered the function of their limbs and digits, of their muscles and skeletons.
In anticipation of coming to Earth they began to alter their physiology again, altering it with intention, reconstructing the things that they had lost.
Over the course of generations they transformed as much as they could, back to the form that was the closest approximation to what they had originally been, preparing once again to stand on two feet.
On a cognitive level it should be noted that the interactive relationship between the creature (the animal and its body) with its environment were determinative factors in the spectrum of its consciousness.
Standing against the pull of gravity, under the weight of Earth’s atmosphere, balancing and pivoting on a central axis, walking and dancing, these activities differentiated human beings from every other creature.
It was with their heads held high, with their faces lifted to the sun that the first colonists moved across the surface of their new world.
There were many changes yet to come, augmentations and enhancements for their safety and security. The colonists knew that they would not be leaving Earth any time soon, they had to prepare themselves to rule it, as the apex species on a planet filled with predators.
They landed under the auspices of a simple rule: they had to adapt to survive.
Talking was the basis of sharing every advanced idea, and had been since the earliest days of the Ancient People. Talking was the precursor to writing, and through the written language the secrets of the universe were cracked open. Talking; the verbal sharing of ideas, feelings, and perceptions, shared through aural communications in waves of sound; listening, hearing in stereo; this mode of transmission is deliberate, it is slow and luxuriant compared to the speed of light at which visual and digital communications takes place.
The slowness of speech was dumbfounding to the Continuum, many potential Observers were washed out of the program because they could not adjust to its parameters.
Neither sound waves, nor light waves could come anywhere close in comparison to the instantaneous transfer of thought in the quantum field.
In the field of quantum entanglement, communication could happen in no-time.
Sound was slow and intimate, the only thing more sensuous was touch.
The sounds of the voice come in waves that crash through the whole body, not just the auditory canal.
To listen to the voice is to listen to the breath, to feel the living intention of the speaker, your dialog partner, adding depth and meaning to every insight they intend to impart.
Speech is relational, it imparts a sense of belonging to the communicants.
The embodied voice calls us back to the primordial time before the species knew anything of the stars, when we were just amphibians crying out for company, bellowing peels of warning, singing by the breeding pools in the swampy night.
The humans of Earth were extraordinarily sight dependent.
Bands of light cross the full spectrum, piercing organic lenses from corner to corner in a one-hundred and eighty degree arc, light reflecting off every object in the binocular field of vision, light and shadow refracting in a broad array of color, captured through the lens by its rods and cones.
Neuro-receptors in the brain flip the images around, creating the perception of depth, by which we determine distance and find our way through the three dimensions of space.
The broad spectrum of vision is vital to the human being, even in its limited range. Other animals see farther, other animals see in a different arc, other animals see more and less color, other animals see in different spectrums of light.
Some animals have ultra-vision, some have infra vision, specialized optics in relation to the things they hunt and furrow for. The human eye, even with its limitations, is powerful. It takes in a wide range of each of those possible fields, coordinating them for great effect.
Neither the Ancient People nor the human species evolved to hunt and gather with its sight. For the human animal, sight and the other physical senses were merely inputs for the mind, and the mind was the vehicle by which the human being stalked its prey, gathered its forage, planted, sewed, and managed the harvest.
The field of vision that the human being possessed was adequate to the task. Coupled with the brain, the healthy eye could discern and interpret images, it could accurately identify objects that it could not clearly see. This was an advantage that no other species on the planet possessed.
The human mind augmented everything.
The brain was split in two. The architecture of the hemispheric brain provided a cognitive override. If the messages from the brain stem flooded the organ with fear, desire, or any other strong feeling, the force of it was divided between the two halves.
This allowed for a fraction of a moment of distance to develop between the individual and the event generating the feeling. A moment when choice was possible, and the individual could act apart from the coercive effect of the external stimuli.
The human being was split down the middle, left for right and right for left. It was an organic duality. Cognitive function were split between the two hemispheres as well: mathematical, categorical, statistical functions to one side of the brain, while the boundary spanning, rule breaking, artistic and unorthodox functions occupied the other half.
It was symbiosis.
The hemispheres of the brain were not distinct. They were conjoined by a network, a wetwork of fibers, the tiniest of organic structures, not much larger than a chain of protein molecules, and that was electric. In this space the nano-particles of the neural net allowed each individual to be connected through Earth’s electromagnetic field, connecting them at the quantum level.
In the quantum field there was all knowledge, and the fullness of humanity.
In this cognitive space all human achievements were the property of the whole; every triumph and every tragedy belonged to the group.
The past and the present were one, as the human being was one, even in light of its inherent-physiological duality.
The human body is water.
Metaphors of fluidity permeated the human consciousness.
The surface of earth is mostly water
In times of crises the surface of the waters and the deep-deep places, is where human beings returned to for refuge, safety and sustenance.
Oceans and lakes and rivers provided everything.
The body needs water, just as it needs oxygen to fill the lungs, to fill the blood cells racing through its veins and arteries, coursing into its tissues.
There is no greater pain than thirst.
Just as unquenched desire is the thirst that leads to death.
Metaphors linking dryness to anguish, to pain and suffering fill the human imagination.
To thirst is to know that the end is near.
Thirst will drive the average person mad with the knowledge that death is fast-approaching and the end of the body is at hand.
When thirst is great enough a person will turn to any source of liquid, even liquids they know to be poisoned in order to slake it.
Thirst is a drive. It is the greatest motivator, greater than hunger, greater than joy.
The thirsty person will do anything, sacrifice anything.
Thirst will cause a person to give up what they hold sacred, even their own identity.
The body senses and it remembers.
The whole body is a cognitive organ, not just the brain, the cerebellum, or the cerebral cortex. The body writes memory into the genetic code of the individual, in sequences of peptides and amino acids. It writes them into the DNA. We pass those memories onto our offspring. We are born with the knowledge of our ancestors, they are coded into the fabric of our being.
The whole being is contained in the tiniest part, in the nucleus of every cell. It pushes us forward, it is a chemical drive feeding the quantum field of creativity, a neural net rooted in organic chemistry.
Our connection to the cynergenic field begins in the wetness of our body’s water, and rises to the electro-magnetic field of our high thought functions. It is a constant interchange of the analog with the digital.
We are a duality.
Just as the human being processes external stimuli through the brain, where chemical sequences are translated into electrical signals in a tightly choreographed exchange that takes place a billions of times per second. So does the human being function as an individuated aspect of the greater-cynergenic field.
Every human being is an organic node. An individual interfacing with the quantum field that comprises the whole. We experience these dualities within ourselves; individual experience and inherited experience, individual mind and collective mind. We experience these dualities, but we do so on the unconscious level, very few people ever become aware of the greater reality that they are a part of, drifting just below the surface. In this dual framework that we launch ourselves into the full realization of who we are.
In spite of our connection to this vast storehouse of memory and consciousness, most of the people in the world had no knowledge of the threat posed by the Yellowstone volcano in the twenty-first century, even though the information concerning it was available to them through the public domain.
It was on the internet, there had been many documentaries filmed concerning it.
The earliest documentaries, were the most truthful and the most disturbing.
The science, which was relatively new, revealed that the last event covered the world in ash, blocked out the light of the sun, and reduced the total population of the human race to just a few thousand. Tree ring samples, ice core samples, rock stratification and genetic mapping all proved it to a degree of statistical certainty that could not be ignored.
The next such event would be a terminal event for the human race.
People ignored it anyway.
After airing for a decade and raising the level of alarm, newer productions began to slip miss-information into the narrative concerning this threat. This eased public apprehension about the dilemma, while doing nothing in the way of preparing people for it.
The United States Geological Service (U.S.G.S.), closely monitored the volcano, aided by several nearby universities. They began to monitor it as soon as they realized what they had discovered. They were hungry for information.
Seismographs were deployed, and in time the vast magma dome at the epicenter was mapped out through global positioning systems, satellite tracking that measured uplift and deformation of the surface of the caldera at its weakest point, with enough sensitivity to track even a centimeter of change.
In the early days this information was available to the public, but after a year of intense geological activity at the site of the volcano the most crucial and most informative data became restricted.
When it was time, the eruption came without warning.
It shook the world, throwing it off its axis. Ash and gas poured into the upper atmosphere, covering everything in a poisonous cloud, hiding the survivors from the sun.
There was no safety anywhere.
When Jim first came to Earth, seventy-four thousand years ago, in the centuries before the first volcanic cataclysm that he witnessed, he made contact with the human family and he found that it was very small. There were just a few million people spread out across the globe, their culture had devolved, but they were beginning to thrive and recover their footing.
After the eruption of the volcano in Indonesia, the human family was reduced to just a couple of thousand people. Their extinction was looming, they were starving and suffering, living without hope.
Jim starved with them, suffered with them, journeyed with them to places of shelter. He led them to safe sources of water, food, and warmth. He lived as one of them through the dark days, through the decades when the sun was blotted from the sky, when the air was full of ash, and poison.
Death was everywhere, disease, malnutrition, exposure, the ordinary challenges facing any given tribe, but other human tribes were the greatest threat.
He had some ability to influence them, to keep them from committing the most ghastly crimes, the hunting of other humans for food, crimes of cannibalism.
In this era he only had access to limited technology. His satellite network was still rudimentary, and it did not have the ability to surveille the entire world, but he used it to maximum effect.
There were many tribes that he was not able to reach, those that went underground to escape the deadly air, consequently, those tribes experienced the greatest corruption of their identity and values, and they would plague the rest of humanity for millennia to come.
Jim activated the cloning systems on his orbiting platform.
He multiplied his consciousness, sending replicants of himself to dwell with every tribe he could find. This was a violation of his directive as an Observer, but that did not matter to Jim, he was intent on seeing the people through this disaster and rebuilding their communities once again.
Everything was in process.
Jim had studied the living planet, which he now belonged to, with tools surpassing the greatest assets of any geophysicist on Earth. It held no mysteries for him.
He had known about the life cycle of this caldera for millennia, and every other volcano on Earth as well. He was determined not to be taken by surprise by any of them, and there could be no strategy without knowledge.
The humans of Earth had discovered the caldera a mere forty years earlier. There science had only given them knowledge of plate tectonics a short one hundred years before that. They were living at the dawn of an age of scientific discovery, but only for a small segment of human civilization. They had barely begun to understand the atom and the genome, and they were quick to adapt their new-found knowledge into weapons and other useful tools, diverting their energy and attention from paths that might have led to their self-preservation.
Fifty years after their first flight in a small wooden craft, they constructed a rocket made of the lightest alloys that propelled them to the moon, where their astronauts were able to land safely and then return.
It was only when the heat beneath the super-volcano was discovered, and discovered only because their surveyors had found that it was pushing an entire mountain range upward into the sky, it was only then that they able to understand the geological forces at work beneath the beautiful and grand oasis that was Yellowstone Park.
Through his observation and the power of his instruments, Jim was able to calculate to the second when the volcano would blow. He wanted to intervene, but he was forbidden.
The Continuum decided it would do nothing to avert the coming disaster, preferring to harvest the drama that would ensue in the wake of it on behalf of the Collective.
The Continuum knew that life on Earth would be devastated yet again, but it craved the drama that this would produce, it wanted to watch the human race re-emerge once more from the ashes.
The scientists, and their cadres of college students, research assistants, people whose job it was to watch the monster volcano and study it, they inevitably became inured to the subtle changes they recorded.
They monitored the changes and warning signs in a way that was reminiscent of watching a person’s hair grow, gathered data which they had no means of correlating to actual events.
Jim did nothing to help them.
As sweeping as the observations they made were, which were as comprehensive as was technologically possible for them, the data they gathered had no predictive value, because every day was a new day in a completely unknown experience.
There was a deformation of the dome, over hundreds of square miles, there were earthquakes, boiling water in lakes and streams; something big growing below the surface, and they were for the most part, un-phased by it.
There were occasions when seismic activity would spike so sharply that it seemed as if the moment had come, but, after reliving those cycles dozens of times, even the occasional spike became a relatively commonplace event.
Doomsday cults sprang up around the world predicting the imminent end of life on Earth, pointing to the volcano as the instrument of God’s wrath, God’s judgement, the coming of Ragnorak or the return of Kali.
They were not wrong, insofar as the myths of Ragnorak and Kali originated with the last great eruption, but of course there was nothing supernatural about those events.
It was just geology, there was no divine wrath or judgement at all.
God had no purpose in it, only Jim.
The doomsayers, spoke to something that everyone knew was true. Every person alive carried the memory of the last event deep within them, and their fears about future catastrophes resonated in the cynergenic field. The collective consciousness of the human race knew that something was happening. It was disturbed, but it did not know by what.
There were documentaries about the volcano, television shows detailing what was known about its history, its cycles, its potential for global destruction, and the relative certainty of the impending doom.
The most prominent scientific journals published articles about it. Those stories made their way into popular publications as well. There was a lot of information available about the volcano. Nevertheless, few people were aware of the danger. Those who knew about it, were forced by the rules of statistics to tell themselves “it could happen today, or it could happen in ten thousand years.” This was a true assessment, it represented sound reasoning. They were measuring unknown capacities against geological time. Making it impossible to gauge when an event might take place, when it happen in six hundred thousand year cycles.
Jim knew when it would occur, he knew down to the second. He set things up to be the agent of the eruption.
In the second decade after its discovery, when the reality of the danger that the volcano represented finally made its way into the National Security threat assessment. The information flow coming from the scientific observatories began to change.
Public access to raw data was cut off. Everything about the volcano was filtered, cast in terms of potentials and probabilities, even matters that were well known, established and certain were characterized this way.
Misinformation leaked into the public sphere every day as the explosion drew near. The government decided that there was nothing it could do about the monster beneath Yellowstone Park, therefore they would do nothing, and they decided to work against a state of public panic instead.
The government decided to invest its energies into managing the aftermath, when the volcano erupted. They would position their forces to take advantage of the catastrophe on a global scale.
This was the best outcome they could hope to achieve.
Jim’s plan required the most delicate timing and meticulous preparation, it was a precarious endeavor. It came down to seconds, and those final seconds were everything to Jim’s broader goals.
The volcano buried beneath Yellowstone would destroy human civilization, but it would catalyze the preservation of humanity itself. A few people would live, but all would be saved through Kathy.
She was the vessel that he had spent thousands of years cultivating. She was ready and he knew it.
The cataclysm would change the Collective forever, the Galactic Empire as well, it would destroy the Continuum, and replace it with a new consciousness, one endowed with a fully actualized and transcendent morality, or so Jim believed.
Jim had spent lifetimes building the institutions, and years putting all the right people in place, cultivating relationships of trust, bribing and coercing when he had to. He made sure that there were no obstacles in Kathy’s path, and that she was prompted to take each step that would lead her to the crucible at the precise moment. She had to be in position at the exact second the cataclysm occurred.
The final hours and minutes Jim and Kathy were together allowed him to put a psychic hold on her. This did not give him the ability to control her, or to determine anything.
It was more of a push, he gave her some momentum and set her on course.
Jim had laid plans within plans, and contingencies for everything. His magnum opus depended on Kathy, on her openness to discovery, her instinct for safety and her genuine care for other people.
For as much as Jim positioned himself to play the agent of destiny, there is no fate, no divine hand governing the movement of the stars. Nothing is predetermined, but there are certainties, there are statistical inevitabilities. The eruption of volcanoes is among them, as the necessary result of geological forces that cannot be stopped.
With sufficiently advanced technology, such forces can be harnessed, controlled, used for the benefit of the people, and there was nowhere, no planet in the great Galactic Empire that did not have access to the resources that would make this possible. But planet Earth was alone, floating by itself in the far reaches of the spiral arm of the galaxy. It was an isolated backwater, thousands of light years from the nearest Imperial outpost.
Earth did not have the resources of other worlds in the Galactic Empire, it had no knowledge of the Empire, and the Continuum would not allow it to possess one.
The disaster on Earth could have been mitigated, it could have been used for the advancement of human civilization, but their technology had not develop enough along, they were perhaps a century away from being able to manage these eventualities on their own, without the technological support of the Imperium.
The end of humanity hung there. It was suspended in the balance between the apathy of the Continuum and the fascination of the Collective.
The Collective loved every moment of the feed streaming from Earth, they were hungry for the music, the art, the culture, the intensity of its conflicts. While the Continuum wanted to see the whole thing crushed, set back and controlled going forward.
It happened in Yellowstone, in the center of North American continent.
Yellowstone National Park was a place of awesome-beauty, a landscape of surreal contrasts exploding from the living rock and shifting mountain ranges.
It drew millions of visitors every year to wander its grounds and traverse its trails, and some who were simply driving through It was a sanctuary for wildlife; thousands of little creatures preserved in their habitat in addition to the apex species, the bison and the elk and the wolf who hunted them for food.
Yellowstone was made a National Park in 1872, through a law signed by United States President Ulysses S. Grant, one-hundred and twenty years before they discovered the volcano lurking beneath the fantastical landscape.
Yellowstone was a cradle of life, nested above the most deadly natural feature of planet Earth. Earth’s molten core burned beneath the thin mantle, a cauldron of liquid rock boiling below the surface, deep inside a vast chamber filled with super-heated and poisonous gasses.
In the park, the most popular features for tourists, beside the landscape itself, were the hot springs, the bubbling waters and high flying geysers that blasted off with incredible regularity. Heat from deep within the earth created these phenomenon, melting exotic minerals in the waters, giving them bright, colorful and psychedelic trappings. Some of the pools were so toxic and acidic they could melt the flesh off a person’s bones in seconds.
Changes in the pattern and timing of these geysers gave the tell to the monitors, that the Catastrophe was approaching, though by the time it did, it was far too late to do anything about it.
The scientists of Earth only noticed the volcanic activity when the mountains surrounding Yellowstone Park began to lift. They noticed a change of several centimeters over hundreds of square of miles of mountain range, between the newly conducted surveys and the surveys that had been taken a hundred years earlier.
At first they thought that there must have been a problem with the original surveil, but they ruled out that possibility in short order. The science of surveying was well established at the time they were originally conducted, even the equipment that a person would use to make those calculations had not changed much in the intervening decades.
The math was the math and it was sound.
It took the best geologists among them years to figure out that the changes were actually caused by geological uplift. The understanding of what that meant, its implications, took even more years to fathom. The geologists had to change their perspective significantly, they had to look at the area of uplift with satellite imagery and only then did they notice that the entire Yellowstone Park was a massive volcano.
Even then, they did not know how significant the problem was.
Geologists from across the country began to study the park in minute detail. Looking at every strata of rock they could see exposed in the surfaces of the surrounding mountains, measuring and re-measuring, and through their diligence they discovered the long cycles between eruptions of this killer volcano.
A six-hundred thousand year cycle, literally spelled out a cycle of reoccurring planetary doom, the expectation of it took on a mythic stature.
When they knew what features to look for, they discovered other such volcanos around the world. They discovered the volcano in Indonesia that last erupted seventy-four thousand years ago.
The Earth’s volcanologists, climatologists and geophysicists weighed in. It was a small cabal of people. They correlated data from arctic ice core samples, soil samples, tree ring samples. They began to understand just how devastating an eruption of a volcano this size could be.
They were hoping it would not erupt in their lifetime.
Those hopes were in vain, the entire planet was under threat, no-one was safe.
There was a rumbling. The seismographs told the tale.
They had been graphing it for years, but disbelief had crept into the analysis. The story was blacked out, even as the tar in the roads that cut through Yellowstone above the volcano began to melt, cracking from the heat beneath and the top researches on the site resigned to protest the deliberate misinformation campaign waged by the government to keep people in the dark.
The government knew the disaster was coming. They just could not be sure when. It might not happen in their lifetime or it might happen tomorrow. It was an impossible thing for them to plan.
Those who understood the nature of the problem, and those who did not quite get it, they were all together in the same web of uncertainty, making the laypersons view as valid as the expert.
It was a quiet day in the great park.
Yellowstone was always quiet.
Deep beneath the earth something was happening. Pressure was building. Molten rock was bubbling, rushing into the great chamber.
The wildlife in the nature preserve sensed it first, birds took off with their entire flocks. Bison fled in droves. The wolf and the fox and the coyote followed them, all creatures great and small sought a path of escape.
Most of the humans looked on, befuddled, out of touch with their instincts and disconnected from the Earth.
A few knew what this meant, or believed they did. They sounded the warning. Some of them were alarmists by nature, they were perceived as people who were always ringing the bell, Chicken Littles crying out, The Sky is Falling!
It ended up in the news of the weird.
Few of the researches fled the park, the all knew it was hopeless. They wanted to see their families, perhaps one last time before it was all over. Those who could did, those who couldn’t opened bottles of Champagne and toasted the end of the world.
Their life’s work was now complete.
The survivalists retreated to their shelters, basking in the esteem of vindication.
They were being proved right.
Every living thing on Earth, above ground or in the air heard the explosion when it happened, everything, even the most remote creature in the deepest ocean, felt the blast. Every creature walking or standing, stumbled and fell as the planet lurched, shuddered and shifted on its axis. Fault lines cracked open, leaping a thousand years forward in the space of seconds. It was a massive upheaval, it was turmoil on an unimaginable scale.
Skyscrapers came crashing down in cities around the world, as the continental plates groaned and twisted. Planes and low orbiting satellites fell from the sky.
Chaos followed quickly upon the sound wave. The desperate prayers of the dying-faithful rose up to greet it.
In security centers around the world the most astute military planners knew what had happened. Nevertheless, they were utterly bewildered by the scope and the magnitude of the devastation.
The level of instantaneous destruction wrought by the eruption was beyond any of their calculations. No one had conceived of the collateral damage to geological and hydrological systems.
Communications were down around the globe. Nuclear reactors were off line and began melting down. Tsunamis were rising in the shallow seas and ocean beds.
It was the end of the world.
It had been over six hundred and forty thousand years since the last massive eruption of the great North American volcano, six hundred and forty thousand years of pressure had been building, and in a moment they were released.
Volcanoes erupted around the world all the time.
The Indonesia volcano nearly wiped out the human race when it erupted 74,000 years ago. It reduced a population of millions to just a few thousand. That volcano, while one of the largest on Earth, was only a tenth the size of the monster in Yellowstone.
When the Yellowstone Caldera blew, the Earth shook, the entire planet felt the rumble. The magnetic poles reversed, the world shifted on its axis and wobbled in its orbit.
The stars, when they became visible again, would never look the same.
None of the scientists, geologists or seismologists, none of them had any idea just how much power would be expelled when the eruption finally came.
None of them had long to contemplate their error.
If they had known they might have tried to do something about it, even in consideration of the risks. They might have tried to ease the pressure from the sleeping giant, but they never had a chance.
Life would certainly reestablish itself. New species would emerge. Some humans would survive, but they would all be changed.
Even still, the planet was doomed, its orbit was altered, and that alone spelled the end of the line for Earth, it would lose its natural satellite, drift away from the “goldilocks zone, and go crashing into the sun.”
Ash shot into the stratosphere and fell back to the ground, burying North America in poisonous dust. Clouds of fine particles and streams of deadly gases blanketed the entire world, blocking all light from the sun.
Within days nearly every living creature on the face of the earth was dead. Those that survived were the most determined. There were many who had readied for some kind of doomsday; preparing for nuclear war, an alien invasion, a zombie apocalypse, but not this.
A majority of those survivalists either died in the preliminary blast, or the subsequent correlated upheavals and the chaos that ensued. Many died trying to reach their secret bunkers while roads became impassable, they were buried in the fallout.
Nevertheless, despite the challenges some did make it.
Many survivalists had already sequestered themselves in the hidden enclaves, of their secret compounds. Some of them worked together.
For them, their stores of food needed to last years beyond the decades they had planned for. It would take that long for the sun to reappear, longer still for farming to be possible.
Human beings quickly became their own worst enemy.
It had happened before.
Outsiders became foodstuff.
Cannibalism set in, as it always did, and quickly as in previous times of crises.
It was, once again, the end of civilization.
The human race had faced this before, it was difficult, nearly impossible, but they had an Observer helping them in the past, they had Jim, and they made it through.
This time there would be no rescue, no wisdom from beyond, no help of any kind.
Volcanic eruptions of this magnitude were the prime movers of planetary evolution. Even the oceans were not immune from the fallout. All organic matter on the surface of Earth perished, becoming just another layer of clay. An event like this was a crucible, even more so in the present time than it had been in the past.
What was taking place in this iteration of the evolutionary cycle was something brand new. The biological evolution would take place as it had hundreds of times before in the history of the planet. In this cycle, however, a cognitive evolution was taking place at the same time, an evolution of the group consciousness, it was a designed evolution, it had been carefully planned by Jim, over the past seventy thousand years.
It meant that the human being who survived would have transcended into a brand new type of being.
It would take thousands of years for rescue teams from the Empire to reach them and bring them into the fold. The coming of humanity would change the Imperium forever.
Half of the world’s population perished within days of the blast, most of the rest in the weeks, and months that followed. By the end of the year, without intervention, the number of human being living on Earth would be down to a few thousand, or less.
Every species was affected; mammal, reptile, avian, insect. Those living on land were hurt the worst. There was widespread extinction. Entire ecosystems were just gone. Only nature’s apex survivors would continue without a significant disturbance of their place in the world: the crocodile, the turtle and the frog.
Coastal areas provided recourse for the survivors. There were fish, there was water, there was mobility and there was power. But it would take decades before the poisons were filtered from the atmosphere, all mammalian life would change as a result, but life would endure on the other side of the catastrophe.
Birth is concrescence, the coalescence of matter organizing itself into a unique form. Birth is the quest of consciousness, the cognizant being emerging independent and alone, ready to observe the universe as an individuated node of self-hood, as an organ of synthesis.
Each instance of birth is the beginning of a series of reflections made by the universe, on itself, for itself.
The relative length of these reflections is not germane; the only thing that matters is that they are made.
The bare witness is enough.
Not all life is capable of making these reflections, the convention of most humans was to inquire only so far as was necessary to provide themselves with the means of personal satisfaction.
Most life in the universe is silent, vegetative, passive; algae and fungus, plankton, and moss, grasses, and trees, bacteria and the ubiquitous virus, these life forms are most prevalent than any other. They mark a certain-narrow range of activity taking place in their environment, on their individual planets, orbiting their individual stars.
The animated life of the fish and insect, of the reptile and the avian, of the mammal, these life forms are rare. As animated beings they see and do more, feel more than the vegetation they consume as food, but, until the discovery of Earth, there was only one world in the entire galaxy where it was known for life to have evolved into sapient creature, into creatures that learned to see beyond themselves, projecting images of themselves, of their hopes and fears and possible futures into the great beyond.
The Ancient People, who constructed the Continuum were the first, and until their colonists reached Earth, they had believed they were the only one.
The human, homo sapient sapient; like every other organic being, is beset with the inherent biases of the animal brain.
The glands of the brain pump chemicals into the liquid consciousness of its neural net. Strong emotions are generated here.
We are awash in them.
The animal brain is fearful. It is concerned with the most basic things; pleasure, pain, anger, fear. It is inherently suspicious, having risen out of the world where the law of life is eat or be eaten. It wants to regard every other creature as either a threat, as food or as something to be exploited.
These tendencies rule the creature, and the search for safety.
This is not to say that human beings, and other creatures are not capable of learning trust, they can and they do, but trust is a learned behavior.
The tendency to see every other being in oppositional terms is never completely erased. Otherness, alienation, these feelings are in constant tension with the supernal drives that are necessary to advance a culture.
The rudiments of language are warnings, barks and whistle, sirens and alarms that link directly into the limbic system: fight or flight, wait and watch.
In times of plenty these feelings become less pronounced, they become easier to set aside.
In times of scarcity they rise immediately into the control centers of the brain, and generations of cultural conditioning that had mitigated those responses can be erased in moments.
Even the human being, even the homo sapient sapient, the animal with the most advanced neural net, even that creature will quickly fall into extremes of genocidal killing and cannibalism, when scarcity and fear, starvation and war, or other threatening circumstances come to dominate human consciousness.
This is true whether the threat is real, or simply imagined.
There is a brief period of time for every mammal, when they are in the warmth and dark of the womb, a short time when they are one with another being, their mother. It is a time of total dependency. Two hearts beating in the same body, sharing the same flow of blood, the same oxygen, their nervous systems linked, they are in a state of complete cynergy.
The father contributes a piece of the code for the formation of the new being, but that is it, the father merely influences the design.
The mother gives the child everything, a body. This does not end at birth.
The child travels with the mother in the warmth and dark of the womb for nine month, through its genesis, formation and growth.
It learns the low tone of the mother’s voice, her rhythm of speaking, of moving of singing, the drum beat of her heart.
The newborn infant takes all of its sustenance, either from the mother’s breast, or from the mother’s hand in the ultimate form of belonging to another.
The child travels with her everywhere, or desires to. There is no place safer, no greater feeling of security than to be placed against her flesh, in the blanket of her scent, to feel her voice resonate through the body.
Everyone else in the world is an alien, potentially hostile, a threat…except for the mother, and there is no one more frightening than the father: stranger, protector, arbiter of conflict; a father is the first person the child seeks to bond with after separating from the mother.
But the father is, more often than not, stern and foreboding.
For most tribes of early humans, as they migrated across the planet the father was the ultimate authority, holding the power of life and death over his family and able to exercise it any time. There were few checks, and no balances.
The child seeks to bond with, to understand, to contend with, and to please him.
In times when the actual father is not present, the child will find a surrogate and seek adoption.
The way in which the relationship develops between the child and father determines virtually everything about who the child will become in the eyes of the world.
The father imparts the public persona to the child, and the child carries that persona, like it does the fathers name, throughout its life in the world.
Good or bad, present or absent, the influence of the father is imparted to the child like an indelible mark. Everything the father does or does not do matters. Active or passive, present or absent, the role the father plays in the child’s life shapes them. None of the father’s words, none of his gestures, not a single touch or glace occurs in a vacuum. The child absorbs it all. Everything done and left undone is determinative of who the child will become, and the esteem they will experience in the world. We are each of us a reflection of the image the father projects on us, not a perfect facsimile but a living representation of the intentions and wishes of the patriarch.
After the mother and father, our sisters and brothers are the first people with whom s child shares a common bond, and with whom we compete. We identify with our siblings, discover betrayal through them, experience them as a threat and learn from them both how to love and how to forgive.
The human capacity for empathy is refined through our relationships with our siblings. Having first learned to love them, we are able to extend that compassion to others.
If however, we learn to hate them, be jealous of them, covet their place in the world, then by extension we are able to project those same feelings onto anyone.
Human history is replete with the stories of siblings, on the one hand accomplishing great things together, while on the other allowing their rivalries to destroy them:
Cain slew able, he killed him with a stone.
Romulus killed Remus, he cast his brother from the walls of Rome, breaking his body on the rocks below, a blood-sacrifice for the eternal city at both its historical and literal foundations.
The duplicity of the human beings, our duality, our capacity for selflessness and self-centeredness are demonstrated in these relationships more poignantly than in any other.
A brother or sister will at one moment put their lives at risk to protect their sibling from harm or even the specter of harm, and in another moment plot to take their life and destroy their extended family.
The sibling bond is the strongest of all bonds, apart from the bond the child has with its mother. When the tension is so great that it breaks, the resulting backlash has the potential to scar everyone who is near it.
It is no small thing to reprogram the animal brain, to take the essentially selfish organism and transform it into something new. Suspicious creatures become altruistic only by learning and through experience, through the bonding of the senses and by neural linguistic programming, by ritual and narrative. The first stage is complete when the individual person comes to see the family as an extension of the self, when they see that their well-being, that their fate is tied to the fate and the well-being of others, both in this life and the next.
The brain is an evolving structure. It mutates, both over the course of the life of the individual and by procreation, from generation to generation. Most of the mutations are not visible or even noticeably structural. They are packed into the dense tissues of the neural network in the brain.
With every new experience a new thread is spun, a thread as thin as a sequence of proteins, and with that advent the organ of the brain is changed, at the same time the genetic code within the cell is rewritten, peptides and amino acid redraft the genetic sequence, and the endowment is passed on to succeeding generations, it is an ever growing inheritance.
The greatest periods of growth and change are infancy and childhood. When every sound and sight, every smell and touch, every taste is actively changing the nascent being, especially at this time when they are learning the language of its family and tribe.
The human being will begin to see the wellness of the family and tribe as coming into alignment with their own, eventually becoming identical to it, without regard for the hurts and minor competitions that ensued while growing-up together.
The other becomes one, when this has occurred we will protect those closest to us with a ferocity equal to our own drive for safety; the other has become a recognizable part of who we are, indistinguishable from us.
Blood and family, they bind us, they may confine us, but they may also set us free.
As we become self-aware we also become “other-aware.” We struggle with the full array of human emotions in the process. We feel the flood of neuro-chemicals and learn to control the mechanae which regulate them. The most significant among them being fear.
Fear is lodged deep within the limbic system, in the far reaches of the “reptilian” brain, in the spine and the neural network stretching out from it, into our extremities; fear is the great divider, all of our limitations are founded in it.
We come into the knowledge of self, fearing any and all others, seeing them first as dangerous, as threatening. Every other person we encounter, accept the mother who gave birth to us, the mother who anchors us through our memory of the womb, every other person is a potential adversary, is an actual adversary until we learn to see them in another light
Every person has a different learning curve, a unique capacity for the details of their experience which they remember, recall and contextualize.
The acquisition of language gives us a taxonomy, the linguistic tools to understand these differentiations: self, mother, father self, brother, sister, self…it is a code that grows and continues to grow throughout our lives. This is open ended: self, uncle, aunt, self, cousin, self, offspring, self, niece, nephew, self, spouse, self, friend, self…etc.
It is through kinship, by relating to those whom we believe share our deepest interests that we are able to learn to see strangers as other-selves, even our adversaries.
There are language games, there is neuro-linguistic programming in every culture that can force these issues into our comprehension. They combine words and actions, feelings of mystery through rituals of shame, fear and empowerment, repetitions that break down barriers, moving a person rapidly through every stage of acceptance in regard to another.
Religion and ritual, military service and shared suffering are among the most effective tools. By passing through these stages a person become fully realized and in possession of their true self.
The care of a loving family is like the wet clinging mesh of a spider’s web. Humans are trapped in it, suspended, enwrapped in it. The majority of people who have ever lived, never lived a day apart from these sticky-bonds, they could not even imagine transcending them.
Familial obligations are invisible. We are bound by them through our emotions; by fear and love, hate and pride, anger, hope and jealousy, the feelings that bind us to our parents, our siblings and our clans are like the ligaments that join bones to muscles.
We are conditioned by rituals; by the stories we tell, the drums we play, by music and language, by the seasons we live and the hours of the day. They are the food that nourishes our identity. We are raised in patterns that play themselves out, in cycles that are both small cycles and great.
Everything we are comes from the family, everything we do redounds to the family name, the name of our clan, our tribe, our village and our state.
Our identities are completely enmeshed with the identity of the group we are raised in, this is the basic paradox of the human identity, which demands the recognition of its individuality while at the same time clinging to the group within which the human being is formed. Only the most profound betrayal can break the patterns we are conditioned to live by, and even then, those who break free from their familial identity, or through no choice of their own are exiled and then cast-out, they leave the family crèche only to recreate the same structures in new places with new people.
The individual can be raised up, lifted high, made strong by their family and tribe. They can also be shunted, marginalized, and cast aside.
Families have a tendency to cannibalize their strength. In times of great need they will go so far as to eat their own, or set up the strongest and most beautiful as holy victims for the gods they worship, to barter their best and brightest away in the hope that they might receive some kind of boon.
As families become clans the bonds of loyalty are fixed in the body, constructed by chemicals and enzymes, by proteins and amino acids, by the songs and rhythms unique to each group, through which they reinforce the knowledge of their history, their ancestral memories, passing them on from one generation to the next.
These are bonds that we do not see, bonds we never question.
Rituals are developed to lift up and memorialize the common ancestors whose great deeds, or terrible failures were such that the clans wrote songs and poetry about them, passed their epics on to their children, and their children’s children, as the sagas of their kin.
Every person reared within the group learned to see themselves as a continuation of the clan’s broader narrative. They saw their own deeds as a reflection of the deeds of their shared ancestry, imagining their departed dead as living beside them, all around them, and they were not wrong.
The departed spoke to them through ancestral memory, not just the patterns of their consciousness remaining with the clans and tribes, but their actual consciousness remaining with individual families, bound to them and the planet in the electromagnetic field called the nous sphere.
The ritual remembering, the songs they sang, the drums they beat, these reinforced the connection and secured it, keeping it vital through that period when the groupings of human beings were still small enough that every person could trace their connection to one another through their blood lines.
They were migrating and wandering, they were navigating by the stars. They marked their narratives by the movement of the constellations, projecting their own stories into the heavens.
They were together and they were one.
Every individual saw themselves as a part of the tribe, and saw the fullness of the tribe as manifested in them. The clan was the clearest representation of the structure of human unity and belonging. It had a sufficient critical mass to draw the individual outside of themselves, and yet it was not large enough for the individual to feel lost within it. The clan was the family writ large, it was small enough to be intimate and large enough to provide for the safety of the group through the structures they form.
Hierarchies emerge in village life, just as they do everywhere in the animal world.
Human beings are animals after all, and in their need to establish social structures they are no different from the wolf or the lion, or the ram.
Competition for leadership in the animal world it could be dangerous, even deadly. It was intense, largely physical and the strongest usually won.
Among humans the intensity was no less dramatic, but it was often more deadly, and physical strength was not the most significant indicator of primacy.
Social hierarchies formed in villages; in the first place they formed around the well, at the markets, in places of worship and religious life, and most importantly in the seat judgment. The center is everything, with social rank flowing from it in concentric rings.
A person was either in or out of the village, either in or out of the center, with movement and access regulated between the spheres.
The beginning of cohesion around village life was the beginning of the disintegration of families, clans, and tribes. The social order underwent change, metamorphosis, redefining allegiances. These developments were not uniform, it did not happen in all places at once. It happened in key places: at the confluence of rivers, along the shores of the great inland lakes, in the desert oasis, at any place where the movements of migratory tribes would bring them together.
The villages were rising.
There was safety in the tribe, and the ability to test one’s self through competition with one’s peers. There was jealousy, yes, and envy. There were customs and taboos that were well established, which intended to prevent such things from having a harmful impact on the life of the group and its cohesion. There were shared customs and stories, rituals, things that shaped both the structure of the tribe and its future. The narratives they spun taught all of the tribes members the means by which they could advance, redress wrongs, recover from injury, hold fast to their position.
Tribal life was essentially democratic, members of the tribe could come and go as they pleased. There were no laws to bind them. There was only duty, obligation and the expectation that those who were dependent on others would be taken care of.
It was only when the migrations ended and the tribes became fixed in villages and hamlets that the notion that people could be treated like property advanced and class systems became entrenched.
During the time of migrations men and women were essentially equal, neither was the property of the other, the concept of ownership was alien and everyone had a say in the destiny of the group.
The tribe might be governed by a chief, there could be a de facto leader, especially in times of conflict. That person was more often than not merely the voice of the people, the arbiter, the mediator, the negotiator and judge.
In place of the single leader, more often than not, a council of elders held sway over the life of the tribe. The tribe did what it could to give every person a voice.
Then there were the others, outsiders, aliens and strangers.
Encampments became villages and villages became towns. The human communities were growing, coming into greater contact with one another, realigning themselves both through necessity and by choice.
Towns grew into cities while people migrated into urban centers for trade and work. Individuals pulled away from their families, from their clans and tribes, and at the same time they pulled themselves into new relationships with merchants and farmers, with herders of new and different breeds of animals.
They clung together in ever greater numbers, both for protection, and opportunity. Learning from each other new ways of life, alien rituals and practices that each group had developed around their totem animals, their symbiotes, these began to be synthesized, re-contextualized for the purpose of enlarging the group.
In the earliest days of this period, the period of encounter the other and the stranger were honored, they were held in esteem for the strengths they brought to new society.
The people discovered farming, they built granaries and the foundations of the city flowed from there, from wellsprings to ziggurats.
Granaries became temples, where the people prayed for and received their daily allotment of food, grain and seed to feed themselves and their families. Temples became fortresses where they stored the fruit of their labor up against times of conflict, drought, disease and famine.
The temples became towers that touched the sky, from which the sages plotted the movement of stars across the heavens. These became the seat of priestly-royalty, and the place from which the laws flowed which bound human beings to their caste, class and station.
Families dispersed, becoming ever less important.
The division of labor ensued.
What became paramount were the relationship the individual had to neighbors and teachers, to systems of patronage and clientage. The individual had the potential to become both everything and nothing, a god-like figure or a slave, to be named in the annals, recalled and remembered, to be lifted in song about or to be utterly forgotten, becoming just dust, nothing at all.
Most of the people, the vast majority, nearly all went unremembered, but they did not disappear.
The cities gathered towns and villages to themselves, expanding and absorbing them, pulling their people away from their homes, relocating them in the urban centers. Cities did this just as clans and tribes had done with families and kin in past ages.
The bonds that were formed in the cities were weaker than family bonds.
Individually these binds were weak and flimsy, but like the spokes of wheel, together they supported a structure of great strength, capable of extraordinary movement, both radiating from the center and supporting the outer frame.
In the urban core social power concentrated itself in the hands of the few, the elite and the strong, the wealthy and the cunning.
The poor and the newly arrived, if they were free citizens, they needed representation.
The majority of those living in the urban centers were enslaved, either owned as private property or they were the property of the state, its institutions and its temples, they belonged to the war machine that kept the state alive.
The free people needed sponsorship, the poor enjoined relationships with the rich, they became clients to their patrons, and these new bonds became formalized into extra-familial systems of societal structure.
This was a new version of a family, the famiglia only loosely related to blood ties. Inter marriage and progeny strengthened these bonds, but they were not required. These were the ancient bonds of vassalage. They were bonds of the imagination, and bonds of determination. They were bonds of circumstance and will, not happenstance or hereditary accident. These bonds were forged by choices.
Cities became states and in the cauldrons of statehood the relationships between all things and beings were redefined and refined.
Common language, common custom, rituals and religion all conspired to tie people together, just as the connective tissues of the body sew the limbs of the body together in the joints.
Shared experiences are the sinews of human culture. There are extrinsic and intrinsic movements with the ritual framework. Well executed rituals engage all of the senses. The best rituals go beyond the physical structure of the world and join the participants to one another through the inner sanctum of their memory, recalling the ancestral rhythms that move them.
When a ritual is serving its purpose it points the individual to a place beyond themselves, and creates in that person the sense that they are being pulled, drawn or called in that direction.
Proper ritual juxtaposes the past and the future, it holds the ancestral memory in tension with future expectations. When the rites are well executed it creates a space in which the whole community is moved by contact with the cynergenic field. They enter the nous sphere, in a state of transcendence they and become one.
These are the essential building blocks of group identity and with their perfection came the ability to pull all the disparate parts of human culture together. Nations were formed out of states, building on the foundations of security and prosperity for the people, as the old allegiances of family, tribe and clan were shifting ever-outward, away from people, into the world of ideas.
The fundamental buildings blocks of human identity were changing. National identity transcended the sense of self as a member of a family, and even as individuals.
Families that once banded together in small sheltered spaces, in a clearing in the trees, forming small groups that clung to one another for safety, establishing camps close to the springs that fed the clear streams which provided them with the clean water they needed for life, and nourishment, building their fires, burning bright in the night to ward off predators, smoking fish, birds and rabbits, feeding off of any other type of meat that could be taken down with the shafts of their javelins and atlatls, their spears and stones and arrows.
The people had returned to the primordial life, and this condition was universal.
The built small shelters in and around the trees, only moving when they had depleted the resources in the forests that surrounded them.
Everything was temporary.
When they had burned all of the fuel, eaten all of the nuts and berries, gathered all the wild onions and mushrooms and cleared the region of the living creatures they feasted on, then they would move.
Through their story telling they developed the ethos that the migratory life was the path that nature had intended for them. It was the life of the natural person, it was peaceful and well ordered, providing the tribal-bands with everything they needed from season to season.
Generations after the volcanic explosion, when the sky finally cleared and the azure-deep returned to the day, when the stars were once again visible at night, the families and tribes left the security of the forests, foregoing the great green canopies that had been their shelter.
They navigated by starlight, looking across the desserts and plains, over the tall grasses and steep dunes; they took to them, exposing themselves in the open.
They came to worship the sky both in its brilliant-blue and in its angry-gray, the sky was open to their imagination, wide and welcoming and yet oppressing at the same time. Its clouds gave them relief from the burning sun and covered them like a blanket in the cold night. It brought the rain, which meant life, and it brought the judgement of the lightning bolt.
There were dangers lurking everywhere in the open spaces. The plains were a place of constant threat, both from great beasts and from other tribes.
On the plains there was also freedom of movement and the joy of wandering, which was something that called to them, pushing them outward like an existential imperative.
Survival in the open required constant vigilance, a discipline that was not as great as the life they had lived, in the comfort of the forests and the woodland caves.
They marked their journey with the stars and navigated from place to place by following the brightest beacons shining in the Milky Way. They migrated with the herds and flocks, following them, hunting them, gathering the grains and sweet grasses of the field to add to their feasts.
They accepted the dangers they faced as a free people, as a people without care. They clung together for safety or in time of need, and separated from one another to pursue their own paths, only to return in their migrations to the appointed meeting places, at determined times, following the seasons and the voice of the wind, or the movements of the moon and planets.
It was a time of abundance, the tribes were growing, becoming stronger, relearning their ancient ways. They wandered the open plains, crossed the broad savannahs, invaded the wide deserts and took to the greening fields.
They climbed to the tops of hills, drawn closer to the stars from which they came, and counted them, piling stones atop of one another, fitting them neatly together, building their homes with a wide view of their surroundings. Human beings were looking upward and outward in search of their memories, recalling unconsciously the sojourn of their ancient ancestors from the starry field. They rested on the hill-tops, beneath the stars and sun, at the feet of mountains, beside their waterfalls and streams.
As they listened to the sound of the wind through the rocks and grasses, the rhythm of their music changed, and the stories they told took on a new character, they were safe on the hilltops beneath the open skies.
The tribes organized themselves in new ways, in vertical hierarchies, in accordance with the physical structure of their encampments. Their migrations took them from hill top to hill top, hunting and gathering the riches of the fields.
They gathered the herds and flocks to themselves: as shepherds and cowherds and goatherds, and herders of every kind. Every tribe developed its own way of life with the animals they tended.
They domesticated the wolf and walked beside the bear as an equal.
They lived with them, led them to water, protected them against all the dangers of the wild. Their animals became sacred to them, as totems of the tribes spiritual power. They gave milk and meat, hides and wool, the totem animal gave everything to the tribes, and the tribes learned to see themselves as extended through the life of the herd.
They lived as symbiotes together; the goat people and the sheep people, the cow people and the horse people. They led the herds into the mountains and scaled the lofty peaks, looking for new pastures and passes and crossings to other worlds.
They found themselves in the highest places, the sacred places in the thin air at the top of the world. They strode across the icy glaciers, building fires in the snow. They learned through the collective experience that there was no place on Earth where they could not go.
Only the sky was their limit and the depths of the sea, they dreamed of sprouting wings, they dreamed of flying from the mountain tops, of reaching out to the touch the sun and stars, recalling the sojourn of their forbears in theirs myths and songs.
The tribes were always moving, always looking for new places, wandering beneath the stars, moving with the seasons, staying ahead of the weather, moving with the currents of the wind.
They followed the rivers to their source, up the winding streams, tracking down every branch. They followed them to the clear springs from which the water flowed, bubbling-up from the deep reservoirs within the earth.
They followed the flowing water back down their channels, tracking down each curve and bend as they widened into creeks and rivulets, becoming streams that flowed into rivers and they followed the rivers to the lakes they fed, they camped along those shorelines, fishing, and bathing in sun. They followed the churning waters, past their waterfalls and their rapids, following them to the place where they merged with inland seas and outward to the oceans.
They founded settlements along the way. From springs and head waters, to the point of each confluence, they made their encampments. They left the markers of their tribes; tokens, totems and burial mounds as they wandered, returning to them in their cycles with the seasons.
Every spring was the birth place of a god, of gods and goddesses emerging from the earth like children from the womb. Water was sacred to the ancient humans, every brook was imbued with inherent spiritual power and there were grave penalties in tribal justice for defiling the living streams.
From mountain springs to the delta flow, the rivers were the first markers of a tribe’s territory. The confluence of water-ways marked the coming together of tribal alliances, or, alternately, they became the sources of tribal conflict.
The foot paths in the forests were serene and stable. The people traversed them in safety and seclusion, hidden by the trees and brush. They crossed into the open prairie, the broad meadows, the open deserts and the snowy fields.
The paths they laid down were narrow, and shifting. The tribes traversed them in long lines, marching single file, laying down the course for those that followed.
The wind erased the trails they made in sand and snow.
The grasses and the wild flowers sprang back in their wake.
The streams and rivers were the markers of lanes that could be followed from one way-point to the next.
They came to the great lakes, the seas and oceans, their broad shorelines became the first highways for human migration. They trekked across them herding their flocks at the border of the deep.
The way was easy by the coast, beneath the stars, following the water’s edge from camp to camp. They pitched their tents in the places where the rivers met the sea. Where the fresh water flowed into the salty brine.
The surface of the Earth was slowly repopulated, and the existential dread that had gripped the human race during the decades of darkness had eased. They were growing in numbers, in strength and pride and in esteem.
On thin strips of wood, in fragile dugout canoes, they hurled their bodies onto the rivers and lakes. They threw themselves into the ocean-seas, just as their ancient forebears had done when they crossed the stars.
They were looking for new ways of life, a life among the waves and currents and tides, a life on the undulating surface of the water. They were searching for mysteries in the deep, beneath the water’s ever changing face. They lived on their little skiffs, casting spears and nets and lines with hooks into the water from which they drew their catch.
They spent their days on the water beneath the sun, paddling to and from the shore, diving into the shallows to gather, clams, oysters and muscles.
Many were swept away in the accidental crossing of storms.
Others clung to their tiny crafts and rafts, and found their way to other shores, thousands of miles from home.
They spent their nights under the flowing milky light of the stars.
The stars sang to them, each glowing orb with a voice its own, as they imagined the galaxy, every bright light suspended in black liquid, soaring through the ether in the resonating waves of their transcendent dreams.
Part Four – Earth
A Novel in Twelve Parts
#Emergence #ShortFiction #12MonthsOfSciFi
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