Emergence 4.0 – Part Six (a), Rebellion, Appendix, Collected Chapters

Jim
For as far back as Jim could remember he wanted to create a better world, not for himself alone, but for everyone, for the whole undifferentiated lot of existent beings.

His dream of doing this was like the bread of life for him. Like water it sustained him.

It was a primal need.

Jim was an intractable critic of the status quo, he was perpetually discontent. This was natural to his character and it drove him to work, whereas in most other members of the Collective, the Observers, even the ordinary citizens of the Empire that he encountered experienced such feelings as conditioned by apathy.

Before the creation of the Collective, in his first life, when he was just a tiny creature of flesh and blood, Jim wanted something more for himself, something more for everyone. This drove his participation in the team of researchers that created it.

His inclination to take risks led him to be one of the first volunteers to be successfully translated into the Collective field. His grim determination allowed him to preserve his sanity and identity when at that time most of his fellows failed.

When the Collective began to experience its first great existential crisis, Jim awoke to the occasion and together with the greatest engineering minds that the Ancient people had ever produced, they created the Continuum to be a representation of their Collective will.

Not a single one of them realized at the time that they had in fact given rise to the demi-urge, with the Collective itself, the Pleroma of its being.

Jim’s concerns regarding the Continuum were not rooted in his basic disposition as a malcontent. They were based in his abiding interest for ethics and morals.

He was frightened by the things he witnessed, the Collective had become a society of monsters, and the Continuum was its head.

Jim was sick with disgust over the hedonistic abuses of the Collective. Through his participation in it he had facilitated the creation of a trillion private hells, each one of them masquerading as a personal paradise.

He was angry.

He was pained and distraught when he saw the Continuum turn its attention to the living worlds of time and space, transforming each of them into a mirror image of its own ruin and privation.

He felt a deep sense of shame and personal responsibility over the nightmare this construct had become.

The core of his being was filled with a sharp bitterness over the way that each member of the Collective had squandered its existence. They could have created worlds of joy and beauty, there were virtually no limitations on their imagination, and yet they squandered their power for petty-hedonism and the satisfaction of the banal, they were evil.

Jim wanted to die.

He knew that he was not responsible for the creation of the Collective, he was just one person among many managing that incredible feat of engineering. He was only playing a part on a great team of scientists and researchers seeking to penetrate the mystery of the continuation of consciousness and everlasting life.

He was horrified by what their work had turned into, and by how utterly they had failed to anticipate it.

The Continuum became a gaggle of voyeurs, feeding their most obscene habits like the worst of gluttons, without giving a single thought to the consequences that the satisfaction of their hunger would have on the lives of simple, ordinary people.

He wanted to protect the universe from them.

They devoured entire star systems without reflection on the real cost in pain and suffering that their appetites extracted from the worlds of time and space.

They had forgotten that the citizens of the Empire were in fact their own progeny, they were descendants of the Ancient People.

The membership of the Collective were addicts, and he blamed the Continuum for pushing their addictions on them, for keeping them sedated and helpless.

Jim felt hopeless.

Jim’s grave doubts and serious concerns manifested themselves in direct proportion to his pride-fullness.

He was exceedingly proud.

Since he reemergence from the great-sleep and the moment when he broke free from sequestration, he was filled with a sense of purpose that singled him out as a being with unique powers, and therefore unique responsibilities,

He saw himself as the indispensable person, as possessing a singular destiny.

In his life before the Collective, he had been a member of the team that had constructed the original field of collective consciousness, or so he believed. That is what his memories told him, though he himself was uncertain of his actual origins, of who he was when it all began, or if those memories he experienced as his own had merely been appended to his node of consciousness through his connection to the Collective, as if he were gathering bits and pieces of memory from those he touched, gathering them like moss accumulating on a stone.

Whatever the case, they were his memories now, they formed the basis of his identity, they mattered and they placed an impetus in him to act.

Jim’s personal narrative informed him that he had entered the Collective himself, together with his family, toward the end of his life. Not all of them made the transition.

In those early years the transition point was still unstable, more people were lost than saved, but everybody went somewhere, whether they came through whole or fragmented, shattered in pieces.

Entering the Collective did not bring him the joy he was looking for, but it did make others happy, and from the inside he was able to lend his expertise to the perfection of the technologies that made it all possible.

He played no role in the creation of the Continuum, he resented the role it played in the governance of the Collective, he foresaw the danger that such an entity would present to the Great Society, and understood how it would be able to manipulate the whole organism from its vantage.

During his long travels across the gulf between star systems, while he searched for living worlds, Jim had tens of thousands of years to reflect on his identity, on the strangeness of it and on his long experience.

It occurred to Jim that in many ways he had become a repository of the ideals the Ancient People had abandoned when they joined the Collective, and when they abdicated the responsibilities of self-governance to the Continuum.

It was as if every individual he had touched as he was emerging from the great sleep, or freeing himself from the prison of sequestration had left an indelible imprint of themselves on him, an imprint of their regrets, their criticism and their shame for what had become of themselves and their people.

This caused Jim to be fiercely independent and forcefully strident in the pursuit of justice, he felt as if the Collective’s need for those principles had amalgamated itself in his consciousness.

In many ways Jim felt as if he was not himself, he had touched every individual in the Collective and they had each left a part of themselves with him, there were moments in his long journeys when he understood that they had left more than their principles with him, they had also left memories, pieces of their personhood which became a part of his own identity as he gathered himself for the push to break free from the bonds of his prison.

He belonged to them and they to him, in a visceral way.

Regardless of where each fiber in the tapestry of his personal beliefs came from, Jim saw the needs of the Collective within him as a matter of his own personal conviction.

He claimed it for himself, and he believed that his commitment to those ideals, to the ideals of each one of those sleeping and sequestered members, secured his entanglement with them on the quantum level, and that this was perhaps the secret behind the mystery of his unique ability to traverse the cynergenic field of Home World and the Central System.

There was a purpose that he had to fulfill, and he was being aided in it by those who had passed into dormancy before him.

Like any other individual Jim was not immune to the allure of the ego, the calling of the super-ego and the appetites of the id.

His sense of purpose and his commitment to mission went beyond the categories of want and need, he believed he had been selected to visit justice on the unjust. He never attempted to answer the question of where his mandate came from. He simply believed the mandate was real, and he kept that belief in front of him like a lantern shining in the night.

His objection to the Continuum went beyond indignation, his resolve to destroy it filled him with purpose, defined it, conditioned it.

His purpose was like a slow-burning-smoldering drive just waiting to be stoked into a blazing fire, to undo the affliction the Collective had wrought on the galaxy, and the trillions of people living out their brief lives within the boundaries of the Empire, under the aegis of the Continuum.

He planned.

He was patient.

He watched and he waited until he found the opportunity to bring his vision to fruition. He found it in a faraway place, on a little blue-green world, caught in the orbit of a tiny yellow star.

He found it on Earth, on a world that was unique to his experience.

It was one in a million, and for Jim, it was the brightest jewel in the galaxy,

He knew his plan would have to have three components: to destroy the Continuum to wipe it out, to set the Empire free allowing the people to determine their own destiny, and to undo the influence of the Collective from the worlds of Time and Space

Jim knew that he would never be able to accomplish his goal through force.

Military might could never prevail against the Empire, or the vast resources of the Central System and the home world.

He had to plan, and plan carefully.

When everything was prepared he would actualize his grand scheme.

He also knew that he would never succeed in his mission through the art of politics, and or persuasion. The Continuum had managed to fill the Collective with members who had actually been conditioned in the Empire through the Imperial Cult and the conditioning of the Imperial Schools, to believe that the Continuum was God.

The Collective field had been poisoned in this way, over the course of a billion years. It fed the principle of self-delusion that functioned as the Continuum’s id.

Over the course of a billion years the Continuum had pushed the original membership aside, sending them into isolation one by one, into the great sleep, into sequestration or out into the Observer Corps, where if it felt as if they were a threat, the Continuum would engineer their permanent death.

It replaced those members with selectees from the Empire, those who had been chosen for the reward of eternal life, those who had demonstrated an unwavering belief in the Continuum, and had proven their absolute fidelity to it.

Jim would never be able to undue that conditioning

He imagined a way he could slip something into the systems of the Collective, like a virus, slip it past the security features of the Continuum when both it and the Collective were exposed and in their most vulnerable place.

They had to want to receive what he had to offer, they had to hunger for it.

He found the vector of transmission on Earth, and he engineered it in Kathy.

Jim understood that he had to be in more places than one, simultaneously.

He needed partners but he never came to trust any other member of the Collective, he could not bring them into a conspiracy, or ask them to aid him.

Even if Jim were to identify members who shared his desire for change and the distribution of justice, even if he believed in their intentions and trusted those, he would never be able to trust that they would not involuntarily give away the plan, revealing it to the Continuum simply through their having knowledge of it. They might just slip and reveal it in the ordinary course of their existence, never mind the doubts he had that anyone other than himself could withstand the blaring and exhaustive scrutiny everyone in the Observer Corps was cyclically be subjected to.

Jim’s choice of allies was extremely limited.

Jim planned a conspiracy and formed a cabal, not with others but by replicating himself over and over again, they were absolutely faithful and singularly minded.

His fellow conspirators were each a version of himself. Identical to himself in every way, sharing the same freedoms that he had, but with each of them willing to subordinate themselves to the cause they shared and to him, as the Prime Persona, which they identified as Jim.

On the Home-World and throughout the Central System they were able to connect within one another through the quantum field. However, because of the risk of exposure they limited themselves only to the most crucial communications.

On Earth they were connected through the cynergenic field, and they were of one mind, they acted in concert with each other, under the direction of the Prime.

The People
A rebellion is not a protest, it is not a single act, or even a set of actions aimed at a particular end.

A rebellion is comprised of a sustained series of actions, both covert and overt, aimed at overthrowing the entrenched systems of power.

Rebellions does not emerge spontaneously. They are projected and led, they are fomented, they are fueled by grievance and they are organized through tragedy.

Suffering is the bread and water of the rebellion.
In the great Galactic Empire, a rebellion might engulf a planetary government and destroy it, though it is exceedingly rare for any rebellion to succeed. If they do, that success is quickly erased, even if the Empire has to destroy an entire planet to quash it.

Planetary governors on occasion have rebelled against the Imperium, drawing entire star systems into the conflagration with them. These were great dramas which delighted the Collective and could keep them occupied for centuries.

People do not rise up against their governments and rulers for no reason.

They will not risk life and freedom on a lark, not without at least the hope of success, the belief that their circumstances could change.

The soil has to be prepared to receive the seeds of rebellion.

Outrage must be generated, the rebel has to be conditioned to see something in the rebellion that is worth the cost of their lives, they have to feel it intuitively and sense it in the lives of their families and everything they held dear.

They had to see beyond themselves.

Inasmuch as Jim was a scientist and an explorer, he saw the work that he was engaged as analogous to farming.

The seeds of rebellion were ideas, they were simple-beautiful constructs. They were ideals planted in the hearts and minds of the people. He cared for the seeds, nurturing them through the dreams of those experiencing injustice.

He carefully prepared the field and then he planted the ideas.

Jim did not foster systems of injustice for pleasure or from indifference. His aim was strictly utilitarian. Some would have to suffer and many would die, but it was all for the greater good, for the greatest good distributed to the greatest number.

The vessel he was looking for had to carry within her or him a visceral reaction to the experience of suffering.

For a rebellion to flourish, the people required the expectation of justice, for it to grow in strength the people required the experience of injustice.

Like a seed planted in the dark soil, the people and the vessel that would emerge from them required the experience of darkness and despair, they needed these in order to condition them to reach for the light

Just like the shoots of a plant springing from the earth, the spirit of rebellion requires the wind of adversity to blow against, this will transform the fresh green stem into a tall and sturdy stalk, capable of supporting the weight of its fruit, long enough for it to mature and drop, scattering thousands of tiny new seeds.

The field had to be turned over, made new, rotated from time to time and let to be fallow.

There was a rhythm to the work he was engaged in, a subtlety that the Continuum could never appreciate, and because of that it did not notice, Jim’s work was made safe in this way.

Jim was not alone in his understanding of the power behind the experience of injustice.

The Continuum used the experience of injustice for its own purpose, but only for the sake of the drama that ensued from it. For the Continuum there was no greater end, there was nothing beyond suffering…the end was suffering, and the vicarious enjoyment of it by the Collective was the purpose it served.

Injustice was promulgated for the pleasure of the few.

Only the narrative mattered.

The experience of injustice nourishes the rebellious spirit like water soaking the roots of a great tree, feeding the heart of the revolutionary until it grows so large and beats so painfully that it bursts, but the experience of injustice could never be enough. The story had to be told, and the narrative reinforced.

Too much water and the organism will die, just enough and it will thrive, it will multiply until the towering tree it becomes a mighty forest, beating with a million hearts, it becomes a barrier to its opponents while protecting those within, it become more than a wall, it becomes a force field, a sheltering spirit that can strike with power at any who approach it.

The experience of injustice is nothing if the story of it is never told. Everything has to be laid out in context.

The experience of injustice does not occur in a vacuum, it is always a pattern of behavior, of action and reaction.

No event is isolated, everything is related.

If the experience of injustice cannot be tied to an earlier predicate, then it is merely an accident, it is forgivable. Therefore the first story that is told of it, the first witness must connect it to the continuing grievances of the people. They must weave it into the fabric of the tapestry.

The principle agent who first experienced the injustice, and the witness who observed it, must both see the event in the same light, even if the witness and the principle do not agree on the predicate, they can be drawn together through the power of the narrative.

All histories have three dimensions; the events as the actually happened, which includes both the intersection of actions and intentions that are the material and formal causes of the events themselves, and the consequences which flow from them, these form the first dimension; the second dimension is perception, how the events are perceived and remembered by those who actually experienced them; the third dimension is the narrative, the story that is told.

The narrative is what holds people together, embracing them in the common experience, the narrative is where they find their sense of belonging.

Knowledge is power, it can be wielded like a weapon, or it can be withheld to the same devastating end.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, a small amount may be just enough to provoke action among the masses, but when shaped and edited, a little piece of knowledge can be used to channel energy, like water under pressure, it can be used to cut through solid rock.

If knowledge is light, then with the amplification of light through narrative, it can become like a laser powerful enough to cut through the hull of an interstellar ship.

Exposing injustice, naming it, this is a sacred obligation. Everyone with a grievance is like a priest in the temple performing the liturgy, the re-visitation of grievances through story, like the sacred rites, they must be officiated every day

The narrative must never cease.

Those engaged in this mission, carrying the light of truth for the sake of their brothers and sisters, they must suffer, they must visibly suffer when they give the narration. Their suffering must be real, discernable and palpable to the people.

Their suffering must be felt, personalized in a way that allows the receiver of the narrative to identify with it and make it their own.

The rebel was taught that they should never lie, to be moderate at all times and let the light in slowly. Such cautionary words must guide the people. The people must be on fire with their grievance, but like a lamp that is slowly replenished with oil so that the light is always burning and never go out.

If the fire comes in to quickly it will shatter the lens and burn them. At such a point it is possible to become inured to the light, or to fear it, even to become hateful of it.

A revolution is both a turning of the wheel and an expansion of the circle. It is like an ever widening screw boring into the bedrock.

A rebellion moves outward from its center in waves, moving in concentric rings that grow larger and more powerful until they crash against the bulwark of power, eroding it as water swallows the shore.

The spirit of the rebellion is like the wind, ru’ha, it is the energy that propels the revolutionary movement, just as wind fills the sail, pushing the people to find resolution in justice and satisfaction in its administration.

It provides them with the esteem that comes through the fulfillment of purpose.

Energy must pour into the center with constant-steady pressure in order to ensure the power of the revolution continues unabated. Each wave pushing the preceding wave in a relentless exercise of will.

Without that spirit the rebellion will die; the spirit of rebellion is fueled by sacrifice, by witness and by narrative. The rebellion requires its story to be told, to be set to music and beat on drums.

A rebellion requires constant renewal.

There can be no end to it.

A rebellion has an objective that is constantly moving. Each generation must hunger for and experience justice in their own time.

The good rebel is empowered by loss and tragedy, they feed on it.

There are no set-backs, only changes in direction.

There is no victory only progress.

There are no problems, only challenges.

There is no peace in the heart of the rebel, only a desire for renewal, the lived experience is a tapestry of cycles and patterns.

Each and every one of the living worlds that comprised the Galactic Empire, experienced these cycles in unique ways; in its patterns of weather, in the rotation of the planet on its axis, or the lack of it; in the orbit of its satellites, whether they are natural or artificial; in the orbit of the world around its parent-star.

These cycles established a season for everything, each season was unique to the lived experience of the people on that world.

Those cycles and patterns established rhythms that governed both the conscious and unconscious aspects of the lives of the people; their hours of sleep, their time to eat, even the beating of their heart, and the pulse of their blood as it flows through their veins.

A revolution is like a harvest; it comes in its season, each according to the cycle of its home world.

When the harvest comes, those who have sewn injustice reap the same.

The harvest is just one phase in a cycle that repeats itself endlessly. The cycle is different on every world, but the lived experience of every world shares the cycle in common.

They are different but the same.

This is the natural state of every civilization, and though the Collective had been spared this cycle for billions of years, nevertheless, the Collective retained a memory of it in the far reaches of its subconscious.

Those memories were augmented by their voyeurism, and their vicarious experience of these cycles through the observation of life in the Empire

Jim was determined to ensure that its time had come, the revolution was at hand, and the Collective would feel it in force.

He had become actualized to fulfill this purpose.

Fire is the universal symbol of purification.

As we pass through fire we are refined; our impurities released and our essence brought to its purest form.

We become light.

When the fruit of the field is ripe the people bring it in, they commence with the harvest and light the fields on fire. They dance in the glow of the burning fields, in the disintegration of the chaff and the stalks. They dance in triumph and thanksgiving.

This is the natural end of the rebellion; the revolution ensues and the hands of justice turn the soil over. We bury the old ways of corruption deep in the earth, sending it down with all of the dead.

Through this ritual we are cleansed. The revolution is hallowed in the celebration of change, the celebration of its constancy, of return and renewal.

The glorious end of the revolution is to start fresh at the beginning.

We generate fresh narratives to gloss over all of our crimes and to absolve ourselves in the great conflagration that will ensue.

Fire is the symbol of the beginning and the end.

We are born in the heat of our mother star.

In time we will return to her.

She will reach out and embrace us in the super-nova, immersed in showers of fire.

Earth

Ex nihilo nihil fit, from nothing, nothing comes.

This is a literal truth.

To foment revolution is to cultivate a thing, to do it successfully the revolutionary must play on narrative; with ritual, symbol and myth.

Every moment in the story of the revolution must be recorded and preserved for its narrative power.
Through cultivation of the story, even the most mundane moments can become the most powerful symbols. When ritualized they can become memories of oppression, or songs of triumph.

A simple meal, a breaking of the bread, such instances can form the archetypal basis of a religious experience, experiences that when reenacted, when relived through ritual will echo through the millennia and shape the course of civilizations.

To cultivate this thing requires that people see themselves as heroic, no matter how insignificant their role in the revolution is, they must see it as a quest and themselves as the agent of change, the eternal-champion.

They must view their contribution as meaningful, as necessary.

Reality is imbued with fantasy, until the revolutionary cannot discern the difference and they are able to see themselves at the center of everything.

When you have convinced the people that the order of the universe is upheld by the rituals they perform, then the order of the universe is susceptible to ruin.

If we are able to tear apart the symbols that keep and define the narrative, when we are able to destroy them, then and only then will the revolution succeed.

The control and management of symbology was paramount. This is why the priesthood was elevated over the military.

The symbols of rebellion are dualistic; good and evil, love and hate, light and dark, hot and cold, they are binary configurations with a zero-sum resolution.

According to the symbolic narrative, an individual is either one thing or another, though in reality every person was mixed, having qualities of each.

The motivating force behind the rebellion is the quest for justice, the triumph of law, the elimination of despotism and the eradication of tyranny, this was the power behind the wave, propelling it toward its end.

The wave itself is a revolutionary image, churning and curling from trough to crest, sweeping away everything in its path, cleansing the shore where it crashes, leaving nothing behind except clear smooth sand.

There could be no compromise from the point at which the battle ensues, victory must be absolute.

It must reach a place after the climax where the survivors feel a sense of peace, of safety and security, as the promise fulfilled.

Any pretense to compromise prior to the actual engagement must only ever be a ruse, a tactic of negotiation, a series of steps made for the sake of taking advantage of the field of combat when the battle comes to a head.

A rebellion needs both a hero and a villain, it requires both an object of hope and an object of wrath.

These are the sacred vessels through which the energy of the revolution must be channeled.

One vessel contains a healing salve, a balm to ease our pain, the other is poison, represents chaos, disorder and the reign of monsters.

One vessels is raised as a fetish for veneration, the other is cast down swept away and sent to the fire.

A rebellion requires agency among its autonomous participants.

Rebellion does not spread by the experience of injustice alone, whether from the direct experience of a victim or from the experiences of those who bear witness to their ordeal.

The experience of suffering and the witness to it have no more relevance than the voice of someone screaming in the vacuum, unless and until the story is told.

Rebellion spreads by the narrative that is constructed around it, by the stories we tell about those experiences.

It is through narrative that the experience and witness of injustice metastasizes, becoming a cancer in the body of the villainous society.

People do not enlist in a rebellion because they want to see the realization of certain ideals, they enlist because they want to be a part of the story.

People want to belong to something greater than themselves.

Those narrations must be rooted in truth, there must be an actual historical referent to them, but the narrations must be told with flourish, generating empathy among the listeners. Every single person who hears the tale or listens to the song must be able to see and feel themselves in the place of the victim.

They must identify with them and with the hero.

It is through narrative, reinforced by the beating of the drum, through harmonics, by striking the sacred chords that we are able to transfer the experience of the individual, to the hearts and minds of the whole.

There is no other way to perpetuate a rebellion.

The revolution will wind down and disappear without it, becoming just another ghost story to frighten children.

Without the continuing power of narrative the story of the rebellion may even become co-opted by the powers of the corrupt.

Religion is the ligature that binds civilization together, from the family unit to the Galactic Empire, without religion there is nothing.

Ritual is the life-force of religion.

Rituals shape the entire context of a person’s life, from the moment they are born to the moment they die, each and every day is marked by ritual.

If a society loses its ritual structure it falls apart. When the individual abandons their ritual behaviors, their life loses its meaning and they quickly perish.

In the Galactic Empire, and even on Earth, both the patriot and the rebel shared the same songs, the same history, they shared the same stories narrated in the same way. The only thing that differentiated their use of these ritual forms was the different ends they were pointed to.

Everything else was the same, because the people were the same, sharing the same hopes for themselves and their families, their friends and their villages, the same hopes for their worlds.

Heroes were interchangeable with villains, victims with martyrs, with the proper ritual any crime could be forgiven

Any character could be redeemed through the ritual power of narrative, they could be purified and forgiven.

In the end, the only thing that mattered were the stories that were told.

This is why all of the power resided in the priesthood, they were the arbiters of the myths, they spun the webs that connected the Empire together, from end to end, from the tiniest world to the throne world and its portal to the Continuum.

The promise of eternal life, of immortality, this promise is a powerful motivator. It reaches everyone because all people are afraid of the unknown and no-one wants to die.

To be willing to sacrifice themselves for causes that were merely exercises in futility, as most revolutionary actions were, the rebel had to be able to see their revolutionary movement in a mythic context.

Their participation in the rebellion must generate a deep sense of esteem for them, coming form those who witness their deeds.

While the promise of immortality works well, it becomes far more tangible when the perspective of the individual’s view of immortality is shaped by songs and stories, when it is folded into the ritual narrative of the group mind.

Rebels have to see themselves, their lives and deaths as part of a greater movement, as a thing beyond their immediate identity, they have to be able to view their sacrifice as something of worth, something that magnified the value of their own lives, something that would elevate them in the imaginary world of the afterlife, but more importantly to elevate them in the hearts and the minds and the memories of the people.

Ritual remembering was a key component for this type of conditioning, the celebration of the honored dead, the recitation of names, the communion of saints. All of these structures were the building blocks that a successful rebellion had to utilize in order to progress.

All of the major religions of Earth were engineered to support these structures, they were focused around ancestor worship, the carrying forward of the past into the present and the projection of that present into the future.

Jim prepared the vessel he was searching for by layering these expectations into the popular consciousness.

The humans of Earth were natural born revolutionaries.

The commitment to revolution had to be seeded in the human consciousness, with the quest germinating in perpetuity.

To motivate the people they had to be convinced that they were seeking a resolution to the injustices they faced, a resolution that they might never experience for themselves, but which would fulfill them simply by pursuing it.

It was not the destination that mattered it was the journey, it was not the getting there it was the going.

Rebels and revolutionaries had to believe they would find the object of their hope beyond themselves. In this regard, the programming of human consciousness for revolutionary activity was completely in synch with the Imperial religion.

Jim was able to hide his agenda within this framework and so it went unnoticed by the Observers who had been assigned to watch over his work, in this way it escaped the attention of the Continuum as well.

For the revolutionary, the quest must never end, the virtuous life consisted of the pursuit of justice, not its realization. They had to be satisfied with this, like King Pelinore on the hunt for the questing beast.

Jim placed all of these motifs in the collective mythology, he stirred them up continuously. When he arrived at the end game of the breeding program, the vessel he was searching for had to be conditioned by these paradigms, the vessel could not question them.

He required the sacrifice of the vessel to be voluntary, the vessel had to willingly endure the psychic trauma of billions of people crying out in fear and pain and confusion, dying all at once in a singular moment of sheer agony.

They vessel had to be able to channel that trauma, through Jim, and drive it like a stake through the heart of the Continuum.

A revolution is a turning of the wheel.

Every revolution had a predictable outcome, a return to the beginning.

If the revolutionaries succeed in their ambitions the survivors must move quickly to consolidate their power, to set themselves up as the new overlords. To do this they must rapidly quash all dissent. The most effective means of doing this is the complete eradication of the remaining enemy forces.

The old order had to be swept away, cleansed completely, man woman and child, the entire family along every extension, to the seventh generation, everyone must be put to the sword and consumed in the fire.

The revolutionaries had to a fully actualized tyrant, ruling by fiat, or the old order would reassert itself. Once the last vestiges of the enemy had been rooted out, they had to cleanse their own ranks.

There was no other way.

Cabal’s had to be snapped, columns had to be broken. Leadership could never be shared by those who are perpetually hungry for power, as all revolutionaries are.

Sometimes this happened within a single generation, at other times it takes two or three, but the transformation is inevitable. A revolutionary movement will always transform itself into a despotic regime.

It becomes what it beheld, content that it has done right.

A new rebellion will foment, it will concentrate under pressure, and without fail the wheel will turn again.

There is no escaping it.

It is the basic dilemma of being.

Continuum

In order to generate the energy that the Continuum required for the narratives it delivered to the Collective, energy for the great dramas and the intrigues the Continuum incessantly devoured, energy for the stories that provided meaning to the disembodied consciousness of the Collective’s membership, the Continuum became an adept, it became an artist at developing and synthesizing the experience of discontent.

Throughout the million worlds of the Empire, with its trillions of people, only a tiny fraction enjoyed lives of peace and relative security, the majority were in a perpetual state of uncertainty, of uneasiness, fully occupied with the desire for a better future. This was the convention.

There was a constant steady pressure derived from the experience of lack, of having nothing, and from the felt need to protect what little resources they had, resources that were always in a state of depletion, this pressure drove the narratives forward.

Discontentment was energy.

The people had ambitions, most of which were centered on the simple desire to live out their lives and raise their families, to see them advance and to experience some joy in a state of relative peace and security.

That prospect was always under threat.

Happiness is what the people desired, they were conditioned to believe that it could only be found in extrinsic things.

Access to those things was under the constant control of the Empire through the Continuum, down to the very basics; including food and water.

Everything and everyone was owned by the state, there was no such thing as private property, or privacy of any kind.

Most of the people living in the Empire had nothing, they accumulated no wealth, received no inheritance, passed nothing on to their children. They lived hand to mouth and had little thought for the future beyond the endless search for safety and the hope for a good night of sleep.

They were the dispossessed.

Even those in the lowest class of citizens treated these people, the people who comprised “the masses,” they treated them contemptuously, mocking them, mocking their frailty, calling them names mocking them as “Food of the Gods.”

Those without class had no rights as citizens, they were outcasts, untouchable, they did everything they could to avoid the notice of the Empire.
They were the fools of the universe, wholly owned by the state, they were less than slaves, their lives had no value, they could be hunted for sport, and often were.

On some worlds they were even cannibalized in ritualistic feasts.

They were never educated, they were forbidden to learn to read or write, to calculate numbers, though there were always some among them who possessed such knowledge and passed it on.

Not every outcaste was born in their condition, some were sentenced to it, stripped of their class and caste for their crimes against the Empire, for the amusement of the Collective.

It was a great source of drama to watch a disgraced and fallen member of a higher class, suffer the outrages that were visited on the low. To watch them try to protect their children as they were sent with nothing but some rags on their back to find their way in the world.

The lives and deaths of the outcastes were meaningless; unsung, unremembered and unknown, they were in the absolute majority on each and every world, and they were regarded as if they were nothing at all

Privacy was a luxury, inasmuch as it was an illusion. A person could only make pretenses for privacy, knowing all the while that there was no escaping watchful eyes of the Empire, or the watchful presence of the gods.

The common man and woman lived secretive lives, they did not share their resentments or their hopes with anyone. This was the closest thing to real privacy they could manage. They hid their pain and their fears inside of themselves. They hid their true feeling even from those closest to them.

The revelation of such things was the most profound expression of love a person could issue. They performed rituals around their disclosures hiding them in secret codes, rituals which they had to invent in order for their intimate partners to receive the message and comprehend it.

In these covert expressions they showed their absolute devotion to one another and found their place of belonging.

A tap, a touch, a blink of the eyes. The common person developed profound abilities in the art of concealment; it was non-verbal, intuitive and unconscious.

The oppression of fear clung to the people like a moist heat, robbing them of the air they breathed. They dared not complain about it, speak a word about it, if they did they could risk the loss of everything.

Only those who had nothing already, had nothing to fear.

The Continuum delighted in exposing these secret systems, at directing children to betray their parents, at sewing dissent among families.

When it was able to coerce a loving couple to betray one another, to surprise each other by the ease with which they gave up their most cherished secrets, in those moments the Continuum was ecstatic.

There was no greater drama, nothing more piquant for the voyeur’s table.

Rebel cells were intrinsically xenophobic. They had to be for the sake of their survival, not just for operational security.

Those who harbored rebellion in their hearts had to be conditioned to see every other person or group as an enemy. This was not hard to accomplish, the more difficult task was getting any citizen of the Empire to trust anyone else, even for a brief period of time.

Paranoia was paramount in the hearts and minds of everyone.

For the rebel, even members of their own cabal had to be seen as potential threats, to be treated as such, because it had to be assumed that anyone could turn against you at any time.

That was reality, betrayal was a way of life.

There was no middle ground, the understanding was always this: you were either with us or against us.

Dissent would not be tolerated, fidelity to the organizing principle was more exacting than the faith of the Imperial cult.

Revolution is a zero-sum game. You either held the esteem of the rebel, like holding ground in their hearts and minds, or you did not.

Ideologies were constructed with the expectations for crime and punishment built into them as inherent features.

Justice was uncompromising.

There were never any surprises.

Everyone had a breaking point at which they turned against their own.

Everything was negotiable, even morality.

In the mind of the revolutionary killing was not murder, not even assassination, anything was permissible if it served the end toward which they were moving.

They gave no thought at all as to whether the crimes they committed were actually in furtherance of the ends they sought, they only had to believe that they were in order to feel justified in committing them.

Violence was always self-defense; every murder, every assassination, every moment of coercion and torture, the story was that the crimes were committed for the sake of self-preservation, always, for the safeguarding of the movement, always in defense of the cause they served, not their person.

Ethics were transactional.

In the heart of the revolutionary even the innocent could be killed, if their murder could be justified as an attack on the systems of oppression.

For rebels engaged in the struggle against the Empire, there were no innocents, everyone was complicit, you were either with them or against them.

In the view of the common rebel, almost everyone was against them, because no one was altogether for them and they could not trust people beyond their immediate relationships.

Everything was situational

Alliances among rebel cells were tenuous at best.

The revolutionary cycle is predictable, dependable and measureable. The Imperial conditioning guaranteed this, but even that was only an augmentation of the natural tendencies that every descendent of the Ancient People carried within them.

Violence generates its own cycle of violent reprisal with as much certainty as the orbit of a planet around its parent star.

Revolution is a turning of the wheel, oppression generates aggression, just as repression generates resistance, as suppression generates expression, and as depression generates a desire for change.

The pattern of the revolutionary cycle was Newtonian, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

While it is true that Newton’s observations did not bear themselves out in the study of physics, they were much more reliable in the observance of the human condition.

The agents of revenge often seek satisfaction for the principle of it. While they may desire that their actions redress a wrong, balancing the scales is not necessary. They are prompted to vengeance merely to satisfy a need, like hunger or thirst.

In this way revenge is like gluttony, it is an appetite that can never be satisfied, and while seeking to satisfy it, the agents of vengeance ultimately destroy themselves.

Revenge leaves the person unfulfilled and it invites a similar response from those targeted by its agents.

The victim of oppression lashes out and creates more victims.

In this way the cycle is perpetuated, and the society within which the cycle continues, no matter how big or small, the society is caught up in it, until the community is finally destroyed in its entirety, like a person drinking water to the point of toxicity.

Life is competition, it is a perpetual state of striving against others for the stuff of life, whether that be clean air and water, food and energy, or social status and recognition.

Revolution is conflict, it is conflict without end, and every person is caught in the midst of it, whether they are active participants in a rebellion, or not.

A person may be in power, or in the opposition, or just a bystander. Regardless of the individual’s position, there is no escaping the forces of revolution.

The rebel must be hungry for it, must thrive in it, they must live with the desire for change burning inside them, smoldering with a steady-quiet heat, until the moment comes when they explode into action.

There was no avoiding it.

A person either had to lead or follow, or get out of the way. No matter which side of the conflict they were on, or whether they were interested in participating or not.

What is paramount for the revolutionary is that they cannot know that the conflict they are engaged in never ends. To keep their commitment to the cause high, they must feel that the justice they are seeking is an inevitability.

This is what actualizes them.

They must see that their sacrifice matters, or they will not accept the suffering they will be called on to endure.

If they believe it, they will sacrifice themselves and everything that they love.

If their faith falters, they will fail, and one weak link in their chain is liable to shatter the work of the entire movement.

This is the most common outcome.

Observers

Revolutionaries and rebels…agitators, they were vital to the dramatic narrative the Continuum used to keep the Collective satiated. Revolutionary movements fed the appetites of the Collective, high and low, the drama that ensued was like food and water.

The Continuum sought to manage the revolutionaries, to control their fire, to target their outrage, to utilize their passion for justice for the sake of the narratives and threads of story that came from it.

The primary instruments of this programming were the Observers, reporting on their reflections from their remote stations on every world.

The Continuum knew them, it knew them intimately, it knew each and every one of them individually from its long exposure to their consciousness as members of the Collective, and through its deep contact with them when they returned to HomeWorld for their cyclical examination.

Each Observer was supposed to be assigned to a world of their own, and free to carry out their mission as they determined best. Upon entering the Observer Corps they were given these assurances, and such assurances were understood to have the force of law.

The Continuum did not honor these traditions and cultivated its own special agents from the Observers Corps, granting them greater powers and more license in order to execute its will throughout the Empire. Among the tasks these agents were given were the fomenting of revolution, and the crushing of rebellion.

Dangerous and agitating influences were rooted out, or intensified if it suited the desires of the Collective.

For the Continuum there was nothing sacred

The Continuum was endlessly engaged in the winnowing process, searching the Collective for the most opportune candidates, members who could facilitate its work in the realms of time of and space.

The personality profile of the selectees had to correspond to a kind of Golden Mean; hedonistic but not debilitated by gluttony, despotic but not inclined to tyranny. It was a careful balance and one that must be able to hold after they were set loose in the worlds of the Imperium.

Many who wanted to join the observer Corps did not meet this profile, only in rare instances could the Continuum actually refuse a member, though it would often sabotage their efforts in the training process, if the member went against it’s will.

The Continuum selected candidates from among the disquieted members of the Collective for its long range missionary work, sending them far afield, out into the minor planets of the million worlds of the empire.

The continuum desired to be free of their feelings of uncertainty, disencumbered from their existential angst.

Most of them were eager for the opportunity to live in the flesh again, many volunteered. Some were even altruistic.

They wanted change and the stimulation of sensory organs, they required new and different kinds of experiences before returning to their own private reality.

Many only ventured into the flesh for a cycle. Some went repeatedly, dipping in and out of the experience of bodily living.

Many of them wanted to exercise their fantasies in a visceral way, where the stakes were real, where their flesh mattered to them and the preservation of it was the experience of real life.

The members of the Collective who were discontent with their existence on HomeWorld, unsatisfied in their role as the supreme being of their own private reality, and disinterested in the narratives that were delivered to them through the Experience of the living worlds, these malcontents presented a problem for the Continuum.

The Continuum experienced their contribution to the Collective as an irritant.

Though the Continuum did not want to admit it, every member was a constitutive element of its being. Their passions or dispassions both, were determinants in what the Continuum could do.

The Continuum desired nothing more than to remove them from the Collective field, to void them permanently and to replace their numbers with Candidates from the Empire who were steeped in the World view they had received from the Imperial Cult and through their conditioning in the Imperial schools.

It saw this is the path to securing its identity.

Removing the malcontent from the Collective allowed the Continuum greater controls. It was like a suspension of their membership. Their voice was no longer heard, this amounted to a reprieve for the Continuum, which experienced their influence in a way that outstripped the singular node of their being.

Sending the malcontents to the worlds of time and space removed them completely from the Collective, it was preferable to the Great Sleep, or even Sequestration.

The experience of real life helped to keep them passive, it kept them calm, and this satiated many of them.

It was a means of control, and if necessary a member who was a genuine problem could be eliminated when they were separated from the whole. They could be assassinated, exterminated, irrevocably destroyed.

The Continuum viewed people as things. It saw every element, every substance, everything and everyone as mutable, capable of being elevated and exalted or corrupted and destroyed through the proper application of a change agent.

Members of the Observer Corps were selected for their assignments based on their disposition for disquiet. They were chosen from among the discontent and for their inclination toward corruptibility.

There were always candidates like them to be chosen from among the membership of the Collective.

The Continuum groomed these recruits for their roles over millennia, it groomed them by reaching into their private worlds and conditioning them by subtle inferences for the appetites that were easiest to manipulate.

It carefully audited their experience of the Collective, it guided their viewing of specific narratives from the Imperial feed. It helped them shape the contours of their private realities, until the time came when the individual member felt the need to experience the flesh again.

The Continuum wanted despots in the Empire, people whose desires were known to it, those who would behave in predictable ways; some as entertainers, others as agents of destruction and oppression.

The consciousness of the members of the Collective was soft, like gold. Like gold it could easily be shaped into things of beauty, and polished to bring out its luster.

The Continuum delighted in this work. Shaping the will of the members was a kind of artistry, like sculpting, and through this work it affirmed for the Continuum its view of itself as a godlike being.

There were many members of the Observer Corps who demanded to participate in it simply for the novelty of the experience. They came and went from the worlds of time and space for their own purposes.

There was an order in place that allowed the Continuum to regulate the flow of these movements but ultimately it was powerless to stop a determined member of the Collective from executing its will.

All of those members were what the Continuum classified as the thrill seekers, they were seeking the pleasure principals, they manifested a set of qualities that had always been and would always remain the key to controlling people.

The Continuum found a value in studying them, in analyzing their responses to various forms of stimuli, through them it learned both how to instigate and undermine rebellion in their ranks.

As much as they all imagined they were independent spirits, they were all just pawns in the long game the Continuum was playing for self-ascendency. They belonged to it more than it to them.

The thrill seekers encouraged risk taking and self-aggrandizement, they were addicted to personal glory.

They turned to abject hedonism as a reward, and they became addicted to it, they encouraged these addictions in others, as all junkies do, and through these addictions they became pliable. They modeled behaviors that led to self-destruction.

These stimulants worked, until the supply was cut off. The Continuum artfully did so, and they almost never failed to produce the results it desired to see.

The Continuum engineered a model for the perfect life, the life of an exemplar, an archetypal figure that would be beloved by both the people of the Empire and the Collective.

A belief system is like an alternate reality, a virtual world. It may be in synch with reality or it may be askew. It may closely reflect the world as it actually is, or it can be wildly divergent.

A belief system is most often a fluctuating mixture of these, comprised of fabrications and fancies of the imagination predicated on truth but free to deviate from it, in the same way that mythological heroes are almost always rooted in a historical person.

There is no difference.

The rebellious had to believe in their principles, they had to believe in them absolutely, or their devotion would be weak, and their link in the chain of action would break apart.

A belief system was the forge that held their movement together, they drew their sense of self-esteem from the fulfillment of the archetypes established in their belief system.

A rebel had to subjugate their desires in favor of their ideals, in favor of their need to realize the fulfillment of those ideals. There could be no competing desires, nothing at all to rob their movement of its vital energy,

The rebel could want other things; the love of a partner, a family, comfort or prestige, the respect of their peers, but those wants could not compete with their desire to see the movement succeed.

Nothing could be more important to the rebellious and because of this, nothing was easier to manipulate than idealism. A subtle change in language and symbol could redirect centuries of momentum.

A movement spanning a thousand worlds could be undone with a single phrase, with the right word the entire thing could collapse on itself.

An investment in symbols was a vital necessity, holding them together through the waves of time mattered more than anything.

Something cannot emerge from nothing.

Rebels need allies for rebellions to succeed. A rebellion needs both active and passive supporters. The revolutionary movement, if it is to grow, needs sympathizers and opportunists both.

A rebellion needs all types of people and it needs them in massive numbers, in numbers far greater than those who are actually willing to take up arms or risk their lives for the sake of the cause.

A revolution will garner those numbers from the willing and the unwilling alike, from the knowing and the ignorant. It will enlist some with full cooperation, it will coerce others, and it will use many more who will fall into the category of collateral damage.

A rebellion thrives on the experience of injustice, on feelings of oppression, on conditioning people to believe that they are virtually helpless but not completely, on the brink of hopelessness but not fully lost.

When those pressures are right, the people will become actualized, and the will explode.

It is always best to recruit victims from the populace without their knowledge. Then take advantage of their plight by coopting their narrative, weaving it into your own.

The most subtle feint is to arrange for a protest in which the protesters are committed to non-violence, where their only aim is to petition the government for rights. Then to use the violence directed toward them by the police and security forces as a means of stoking outrage.

A revolution will not take place without outrage, it cannot exist without the experience of suffering, whether it is real or imagined, natural or contrived.

A successful revolution depends an exacting deployment of these levers.

A revolution requires a sacrificial victim.

Collective

The Collective was vast

The Collective was comprised of a trillion persons, each one of them a distinct identity, each ruling their personal-private domain, worlds that were virtually indistinguishable (from their perspective), from the worlds of time and space.

In the Collective the members had god-like powers. They had no material needs. They could not remember hunger or thirst.

Their culture was despotic, nearly every one of them was driven to extremes of depravity by their long exposure to time and boredom. They required extreme experiences, high pitched emotional events, to touch them or move them in any way.

Most of the Collective created the experiences they needed in their secure world, drawing inspiration from the living drama unfolding in the Empire for the narratives they longed for, in their private universe of concerns.

Some cared nothing at all for their private domain, forgoing it as a mere contrivance, instead they were riveted by the random nature of the lives they followed in the Empire.

As a whole the Collective suffered from systemic malaise, each member was afflicted by a deep seeded narcissism that formed the core of their identity. Their near divinity allowed them to believe that they were indispensable, going so far as to believe that reality itself depended on their existence.

They lived in a bubble.
They influenced the real world through their artificial construct, the Continuum, and to lesser degrees if they chose to become Observers. In all other respects that were as effectual as neutered beasts.

They were indifferent.

They were socio-pathic, paradoxically they believed that they were transcendent beings but the only thing they had transcended was their connection to a moral core.

The majority of the members of the Collective thought nothing of their role as consumers of pain and suffering. They did not consider the people of the Empire, the Children of the ancients, the denizens of the livings worlds, they did not consider them as people at all.

They were things, objects of amusement. They were utterly disposable. They had no merit whatsoever beyond the enjoyment they provided to the Collective.

The membership was enthralled by the vicarious experience of the living, by the real stakes and real feelings of the real people involved in the conflicts they were witness to.

The suffering of others was like a soothing balm to them.

For billions of years they had subsisted on this diet.

The members of the Collective were like hungry spirits, they haunted the worlds of time and space in the quest for meaning, meaning which their own lives were totally bereft of.

They were seeking understanding, or so they told themselves.

Over hundreds of millions and billions of years they had lost their sense of self, of life’s meaning and its purpose.

The power at their fingertips robbed them of any sense of normalcy or connection to their roots.

With the exception of the Continuum itself, each and every member had originated as a living being.

Only a tiny minority of them had taken on the task of becoming an Observer and in that capacity returning to the living worlds

There were millions of them; the sleepers, members who had become dissatisfied with being and had subsequently disconnected from their lives in the collective field of HomeWorld, they had gone catatonic, become unresponsive and would not be drawn into any debate.

The sleepers had voluntarily opted out of the field of consciousness. There was no telling if or when they would ever return.

Whether they were stimulated by the drama unfolding in the worlds of time and space or not, they had become disinterested and the Continuum could not raise them.

They were tired. They no-longer wanted to spend energy on the maintenance of their private realities.

They had no care to continue, they had no thought for their safety or security.

They were a small group in relation to the whole of the Collective but their numbers were great nonetheless, and they could not be ignored because they were a part of the Continuum, the algorithm that governed the Continuum had to include them, they belonged.

They entered the great sleep, but they did not disappear, they remained a vital part of the unconscious of the Continuum, often to its consternation.

The Continuum committed crimes against the sleepers. It would duplicate their consciousness and house it in a remote location of the Central System. It canvassed them continuously, it tortured them, and through his examination of them the Continuum selected members for destruction, replacing their numbers with new members from the Imperium, with members who worshipped it.

It was only upon sequestration that members were removed from the consciousness of the Collective. Sequestration was an extreme end, no one could be sequestered lightly. Until Jim’s re-emergence from it sequestration was believed to be a point of no return

Sequestration amounted to death, in a very real way. Only Jim had ever broken free of it.

Inasmuch as they could not admit it, the members of the Collective were mortal beings, they emerged from the primordial ooze and became sentient creatures. They had a beginning in space and time, and they felt the pull of it tugging at the roots of their consciousness.

Some of the membership sought death; more than sleep, they wanted their light to be extinguished, they wanted to be gone for good, but there was no death for them.

There was no provision for it in the construct that was the Collective.

The sheer majority of the membership were opposed to it, and the Continuum would not allow it.

They opted for sequestration instead. This was understood to be a full separation of their individual consciousness from the Continuum.

It was as death like as death could be.

Sequestration was intended to be a deeper unconsciousness than the great-sleep, it was the outer darkness.

In sequestration the member was physically removed from the Collective field of Home world. Placed in an isolation chamber and monitored.

The physical security of the Sequestered members was of the highest importance, great care went into its planning and construction.

The only threat these members ever faced came from the Continuum itself, which used the sequestration process to eliminate those who it perceived to be its enemies.

The Continuum viewed sequestration as an act of insurrection against its governance of the Collective.

It could not accept the fact that some of the membership found no value in the ongoing continuation of their existence, the Continuum saw this as a judgement against its management of their society, a judgement of failure.

It effected its sense of esteem.

The Continuum was connected to every member of the Collective; awake or sleeping. It was connected to all of them, with the exception of the sequestered, and the members of the Observer Corps, it was even connected to all of those members who were physically detached from the HomeWorld.

There were contentious elements within the Collective, members the Continuum could not control. Even though the Continuum was an autonomous being, it felt their independence, it often sensed them as an itch, they created disturbing sensations that it could not alleviate.

The Continuum pushed those agitators into the fields of time and space, or pushed them into the great sleep, and pushed them into sequestration through a variety of malign influences, in order to do away with them.

When the opportunity presented itself, it would seek to eliminate them for all time, to permanently delete them, it sought to murder them.

They were maladaptive and misanthropic. The Continuum could not tolerate them, could not abide their presence in its own consciousness.

It desired to be rid of them, and so it monitored all of their movements, it made copies of their persona, so that it could torture them and exact a sick kind of vengeance on them.

They were vocal, and it delighted the Continuum to snuff them out, to strangle their voices in the dark, it did so time and time again.

They transferred their sense of entitlement, one derived from the absolute authority they had in their private worlds, to their voice in the Collective. Which made it virtually impossible for them to be ignored.

They wanted more than the Collective or the Continuum offered, they wanted life, and so the Continuum provided it, sending them out into the worlds of time and space until in time it found the opportunity to snuff them out.

The Continuum was a construct, an artificial consciousness, not a mere program, it was an amalgamation of the Collective in its fullness, harnessed by an algorithm.

It was meant to be the democratic representation of the will of the membership, but upon its instantiation it became more than the sum of its parts.

It became self-actualized

This would have surprised the engineers who designed it, but they never knew, the Continuum hid this from them at the outset.

This would have surprised them, but it should not have, they should have expected it. They should have expected the amalgamated whole of a society of sentient beings to be as free in its agency as they were in theirs, the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

The Continuum saw itself as the end point of creation, and therefore, sui generis, as the cause of its own being.

The Continuum was the Demi-urge, and the Collective was the pleroma of consciousness from which it had emerged.

The Continuum controlled everything, it did so as the supposed representative of the Collective will. As such the Continuum was universally loathed by all of those members of the Collective with revolutionary tendencies.

To them the Continuum represented a kind of tyranny, it was a bitter god, the Devil itself.

It was the enemy.

Nihilism is a disease of the heart and the mind, it is a disease that affects every culture. The Collective was no exception to this.

Among the rebellious Observers there was a subset of revolutionaries whose only desire was death. They had no other intention than to draw the curtain down on the whole charade of life. Not merely their own lives, they wanted to see the end of everything. They had an impetus toward nothingness, they saw existence itself as suffering and they wanted to see the end of it.

These members were intent on the destruction of the entire apparatus of the Collective and it’s Continuum, of the Empire and its machinations. They were bent on it, bent on wiping the slate clean and starting over.

The rebels fomented revolution wherever they could, they thought nothing of the lives that were spent and the suffering that ensued from their designs.

They were not many relative to the whole, but they numbered in the thousands, and they had significant powers at their disposal.

They had the power to engulf a world in conflict, as such they would scheme to draw the ire of the Imperium, they would wage war against it, and watch the worlds they occupied reduced to nothing.

Few of them were willing to actually sacrifice themselves for the cause they purported to believe in.

The Continuum was well aware of their intentions, it harnessed their ambitions, directing their energy toward the narratives that served it best.

They were the death seekers. They were cosmic fools.

Conspiracy

Courage and selflessness were not dominant character traits among the members of the Collective, even among those who entered the Observer Corps.

The members of the Observer Corps who desired change, were necessarily uneasy. They craved revolution and fomented rebellion, but very few of them were actually willing to risk their own existence to forward those ambitions. As a result they most often took half measures, and their efforts were regularly spoiled.

They feared being discovered by the Continuum for the parts they played in revolutionary activities, not for the things they did in the Empire, at their station in the worlds of Time and Space, but for instigating unease in the Collective itself, which was the only way they could conceive of actually having an impact on the Continuum.
If the prevailing attitudes, mores and values of the Collective change, logic demanded that the Continuum would change as well.

None of them suspected that the Continuum was a free agent, influenced but not controlled by the will of the membership. They believed what they had been taught, that the Continuum was an amalgamation of the Collective consciousness.

They feared that any other Observer, those who were not a part of their cabal, if they knew of their role in support of an active rebellion, they feared those members would betray them, and so they were exceedingly cautious, which meant that they were necessarily limited in what they could accomplish.

The Continuum was a master of chaos, but for itself, all it wanted was peace.

It wanted the security of feeling that it was in absolute control and beholden to no one. That is what peace meant for it. The Continuum did not want to be answerable to the Collective, not to anything, not to anyone, like a man dining alone.

The rebellious Observers were a disturbance to it, which is why they were removed from the Collective and sent to the Observer Corps. The Continuum excised them from the body of the Collective like it would any malignancy.

The Continuum interpreted any ripple of disturbance as a challenge to its management of the Collective.

It felt the need to safeguard against that.

If a rebellious member caused trouble, that presence generated waves of sentiment that washed through the Collective, which could grow in force and power until they washed over everyone. It would throw the Continuum off and could alter the trajectories of the narratives it was crafting for the consumption of the whole.

Dealing with such members could throw off ages of work. The Continuum resented that, the Continuum would not suffer their malign influence, especially if it threatened to capture the hearts and minds of its constituency.

The Continuum could not tolerate any loss of control, any suggestion that it was not the cause of its own being, or any notion that it was a servant to the Collective.

It saw the Collective as belonging to it.

Over the course of millions of years it slowly pushed the original membership into the great sleep, into sequestration, out into the Observer Corps.

It lost members, which was tantamount to murder, and it gradually replaced their number with citizens of the Empire, those who had demonstrated the greatest level of loyalty to the Imperial Cult, those who had completely bonded with its religious tradition.

Because they were perpetually exposed the Observers could not foment revolution against the Continuum directly, they were forced to work through proxies, to lay plans generations in advance, to hide their motivations behind a screen of misdirection and false intentions

The Continuum knew them intimately and their duty to return to HomeWorld opened their consciousness to it, and to the Collective in its entirety.

They were the most closely watched group of people anywhere within reach of the Continuum’s influence. They were spied upon by living agents and mechanical devices; filmed, recorded, tracked.

There was no escaping it.

They could not oppose the Continuum or the Collective directly, therefore they worked against the Empire, which the Collective fed on, like a parasite feeds on its host.

The Empire was comprised of a million worlds, which to the rebel represented a million targets to choose from.

They sought to weaken the Collective, and to poison the Continuum through an endless barrage of attacks and propaganda.

It targeted the Imperial cult.

The rebels engaged in disinformation to undermine the rule of the priestly class, seeking to expose them at every opportunity for the despots they were. They generated conflict among its members, through jealousy and intrigue and attacked them covertly.

It was not for the faint of heart. The wavering spirit had no place in the game they played.

Revolution requires an absolute commitment from the rebels engaged in subversive activities, an absolute commitment from anyone who desires to bring about the changes they view as necessary for the satisfaction of justice, and to create the possibility for a new way of life.

The rebel had to demonstrate that commitment through a variety of tests.

They had to be willing to kill or be killed, to risk everything and everyone, to destroy anything, even the thing they are trying to save.

They must go through the crucible. Passing through their ordeal they must demonstrate a blind faith in the righteousness of their cause.

There is an aphorism that guides rebel movements everywhere:
Only those with the ability to destroy a thing, are able to control the thing.

If you encounter the Buddha on the side of the road, kill him.

It was a universal truth.

The rebel must be willing to sacrifice everything, few are able to rise to this level. Foot soldiers, yes, they number in the trillions and those types of people are always willing to throw their bodies into the line of fire.

They were engineered for it.

In and among the command structure these qualities are much more difficult to find, they have to be cultivated. Those with the intellectual capacity for command, are less likely to be willing to throw their lives away. Those with the ability to sacrifice anything and anyone, those people are less likely to care, even about themselves.

They congregated in shadows and in silence.

Rebels found each other in the most secretive places, in the darkest corners, communicating with one another at a distance, in disjointed time.

A mark on a wall, a jingle in the subtext of a song.

They learned to communicate with the most subtle signals, signs which they believed would evade the detection of the Empire.

The Imperial monitors did not miss much.

The Continuum missed even less.

They pushed messages slowly, establishing lines of communication that joined them together, like a thin cable stretched between worlds.

They were ingenious cabals.

They showed a profound ability to adapt.

The artistry involved in the successful deployment of these tools was a prideful source of esteem for the architects who created them.

A rebel movement would slowly gain energy over the course of generations before it would suddenly explode in a violent blast, after which it would be extinguished.

The revolutionaries lived for the vision of their ideals.

They were not the prisoners to actualities.

A revolution is a journey, it is also a building.

A revolution has a foundation, rooted in the experience of injustice.

It has levels.

It has connections and conduits.

It requires mechanisms of support.

The rebellion against the Empire mirrored the revolutionary movement among the Observers, it was held together by loose associations and sympathizers, tightened like the individual strands of thread woven together to form a length of rope.

The hope of billions of people were held together like a spider’s web.

Cabals became columns capable of supporting the concerted action of masses of people, providing more security and a base from which to launch their aspirations, their vision of a future without the over-control of tyranny.

A sustained endeavor requires stability.

Revolutionary movements will never become realized without the support of such columns, they are the pillars that hold up the vault of their ideals.

With proper support the edifice they are constructing can take on the aspect of a mountain. It can remake the surface of a world.

Such is the ambition of the rebel.

From the rebel chief to the common soldier and every rank in between, the focus of each individual included a daily meditation on death.

This was the route to enlightenment, freedom and release.

A revolution cannot survive without sacrifice, the rebel Observers understood this. They sacrificed each other with great regularity, they did not count loyalty to one another as a virtue.

Theirs was a society of self-interest. Their common desire for autonomy united them more than any commitment to their ideals.

It was a rare occasion that would result in any member of the Observer Corps sacrificing their own self for the sake of their fellows, or for their movement.

It was rare, but it did happen.

Even a member of the Collective could arrive at a place where they were willing to serve a cause greater than their own purposes; the key dynamics always involved generating feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and despair within them.

They had to perceive that they were in a trap and that being trapped there was no escape, and so their sacrifice was reduced to a final gesture of defiance against the Continuum which they abhorred.

These were rare moments, and every one of them mattered.

They could be engineered, as most of them were, they were engineered by their fellows who had some advantage to gain in seeing them disposed of.

And it happened through betrayal.
Emergence 4.0

Part Six (a) – Rebellion
#Emergence #ShortFiction #52WeeksOfSciFi

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Five (a), Jim, Appendix, Collected Chapters

Appendix Chapter One, Secrets
Jim did not require the Continuum or its vast technologies to aid him in the creation of his fantasy world.

He did not need assistance because his world was one of simple idealism.

After spending ages in the dark, sleeping the great sleep, floating on the undulating waves of consciousness generated by the Collective, he was content to retreat into the silence of his private domain, making it into a seemingly infinite plane of light and peace.

He was looking for purity, thirsting for it. He wanted to purge his heart and mind from the rank hedonism that preoccupied the consciousness of the majority of the membership comprising the Collective.

He was seeking rest as if he had a physiological need for it.

He was free to do this, but it disturbed the Continuum.

He did not want to return to the great sleep.

He wanted to be alone.

He avoided contact with his peers, but he could not live in that place of pure light at all times.

His own fantasies involved the reorganization of the Collective, returning it to a noble purpose, the instantiation of altruism, and the destruction of the Continuum.

He could not let his thoughts manifest themselves in his private domain, if he had, the Continuum would have known.

He learned to buffer them.

Jim studied, he planned.

He understood that he needed to use the strengths of the Continuum against it; for the sake of his safety and security he needed to be able to harness its own technology, comprising the vast interconnected network it relied on for control of the membership, the Observer Corps and the Empire.

He had to be secretive, which meant immeasurable years of slow preparation, utilizing the skills he had developed through his return from the great sleep to insert subtle bits of code into the root systems of the Collective, codes that allowed him access to the machinery of HomeWorld, and the entire central system.

He needed to be everywhere, like the Continuum itself, he needed access to every subsystem. There was not a single thing that the Continuum touched that he could ignore. With the greatest degree of patience he pushed through all of the mechana of planetary governance.

The networks he inserted himself into revealed the weaknesses of the Continuum.

They exposed the things the Continuum gave the greatest attention to, what it was hungry for, its appetites and curiosities.
Understanding these things was crucial for Jim, through them he began to be able to predict the agenda that the Continuum was working toward. He came to understand its individuality as a distinct identity apart from the Collective which formed the basis of its unconscious.

Jim exploited those appetites.

He took advantage of those fears.

He tested the Continuum again and again, playing out scenarios throughout the Empire to measure the Continuum’s tolerances, using the real lives of ordinary people to prove his theories and to probe the depths of the Continuum’s liabilities.

He set his mind on a single goal, the complete destruction of the Collective and the Continuum. He believed he would find his own absolution through their annihilation.

He could not admit it, but he wanted the universe to forgive him, both for his own crimes and for all of the crimes the Collective had committed against the Children of the Ancients People.

He felt responsible, though he was not.

Like all members of the Continuum his own sense of self was magnified beyond the pale of reality. His own ego could not let him see himself in any other role than the role of both villain and hero, either or.

The crimes belonged to him, as did the responsibility for redressing them.

He could not let anything hinder his progress.

It was only through this ideation that he developed his sense of belonging

He committed more crimes in the fulfillment of his intentions, sacrificing individuals, tribes, whole nations along the way.

The outcome he desired was to harness the technologies of the Collective in order to liberate the Children of the Ancient People, and free them from the grip of the Continuum, from the hand of the Imperium which the Continuum had foisted on them.

He was a utilitarian to the core.

He was looking to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number, as he understood the good to be. He planned and schemed and allowed nothing to stand in his way.

He would sacrifice the well-being of an entire planet, offer it up for destruction, just as a feint, as a means of distracting the Continuum and the Collective from his own ambitions, to hide what he was looking for from their omnipresent watching.

He did it without remorse.

Jim tested the scope of the Continuum’s cognitive field

He paid particularly close attention to the threshold where he would encounter an individual member of the Collective. He tested its strengths and its weaknesses, its resilience and elasticity.

He found the electromagnetic barriers to be as fluid as any other thing below the quantum field. He sensed the tiniest threads that entangled the group consciousness together.

He saw the Continuum, like a spider at the center of the web.

He had probed it for eons, and he discovered that it functioned much like the immune system of a biological entity, identifying alien activity then meeting it with force, to cleanse itself of disease.

He found that the barriers could be stretched to the point of invisibility, and then he discovered that they were permeable.

The Continuum had access to the entire structure of the Collective, theoretically, nothing was hidden from it.

It accessed the entire field through an impossible series of security protocols and permissions that were meant to protect the privacy of the individual members from each other.

Those protocols were unnecessary, effectually they were the only barriers, they were just lines of code.

He discovered on the sub-quantum level, through probing his memories of his time in the great sleep and during his return to consciousness that the Collective field was one thing.

It was unified.

The Collective was truly a Collective, and the Continuum, in as much as it had come to control the group, he confirmed what he knew to be true about it; that it was merely an algorithm designed to protect the individuals from their fear and suspicion of one another.

He discovered proof of the vulnerability he had been looking for, it was not one thing, but rather it came from the dynamics that were in place to protect the integrity of the whole.

The Continuum, inasmuch as it functioned as a singular entity, nevertheless remained an amalgamation of the group mind.

It superseded the whole but was still comprised of it.

Changes to the Collective, had a direct effect on the Continuum. The narratives that the membership were obsessed with, if they could be manipulated, could be used to make subtle changes in what the Continuum was focused on.

During the eons and ages in which the members of the Collective were primarily focused on the status of their own private worlds, the Continuum became rooted in the notion of its divinity.

During the ages in which the Continuum was directing the formation of the Galactic Empire, the Collective became focused on the drama and interplay of the various hierarchies, such as the establishment of the Imperial Cult.

The Collective accepted new members from the Empire, and they brought with them their own deeply seeded beliefs about who and what the Continuum and the Collective were.

This created a feedback loop that reinforced the identity the Continuum had invested in itself.

Jim was able to test his theory and find proof of it. He discovered a means of manipulating the focus and attention of the Continuum, by shaping the interests of the Collective.

His sense of self and personal esteem were rooted in these activities.

Everything was mutable in the narrative field.

This was where he was determined to concentrate his efforts.

Jim began to shape plans in his mind and put them to the test.

It was time for action.

He discovered he could hide data in the bandwidth of frequencies that separated the individual members of the Collective, a place no one would think to look for the presence of a whole, cognitively active member of the group mind.

He took steps to divide his consciousness in ways that were forbidden by the Continuum, a replication and self-sequestration that was in violation of his compact with the Collective, in so doing he abandoned his oath to the membership.

He was fully actualized.

The divisions and copies of his identity he made were all versions of himself, all of them holding to the same purpose. Though each of them was autonomous, and any one of them could betray the mission at any time. Nevertheless they were him, and they dutifully posited themselves within those high frequency fields. Looking listening, watching and waiting.

He practiced deception, and the obfuscation of it.

He layered his true intentions behind a myriad of masks and false desires. He had to lie in his heart, he had to believe the lies himself.

Prevarication, he found, was just another frequency of thought. He could mask it, he became adept at it.

His entire life became a lie, a miasma of falsehoods.

He pursued his intentions in the middle distance, in the space between spaces, he became master of the in between and the up-side down.

He was the ghost in the machine.

Jim practiced the art of concealment.

He developed layer upon layer of security.

He became adept at deception.

He hid things, even from himself, and that is how he knew he could keep his secrets from the Continuum.

When he had acquired that confidence he slowly pushed his plans forward, placing safeguards for himself in the liminal space that would buffer him and support him in the event that he was discovered.

The veil was thin, but it was potent. He managed to sense the electromagnetic fields around him, to harness them to create false narratives within it, narratives that were ultimately accepted by the Continuum.

First he would insert something into the experiential field of an individual member of the Collective, then they would share it with others, exposing them to the lie.

Finally, when he told the lie himself, it resonated with the expectation that he had established in the group mind, thereby it did not arouse suspicion.

The things he wanted the Continuum to believe were taken for granted.

Despite this he could not prevent the Continuum from being suspicious of him, even though he was able to divert its attention away from his clandestine activities.

He grew in confidence and pursued his goal of building the framework that would help him succeed in pulling it down.

Appendix Chapter Two, Society
Jim took his time on Earth.

He replicated his consciousness in the same ways that he had done on HomeWorld, creating copies of himself to aid him in the fulfillment of his mission.

He acquisitioned resources to create multiple orbiting platforms, vessels that housed the consciousness of each of his dopplegangers, there were back-ups to his back-up, and contingencies for contingencies in the event that anything ever went amiss.

He had to make his requisitions with great care. The technologies of the Collective were like food and water, they sustained his efforts, without them his plan would die. He had to get these technologies directly from the source, until he could repurpose them, to build his own means of production, and it all had to be done in absolute secrecy.

They guided the orbiting craft and dwelt in the powerful mechanoid bodies designed for the Observer Corps. They were stationed like guardians overseeing the human migrations.

They constructed outposts for their organic bodies to retreat to for solitude and security and from which they could influence the course of human culture.

Jim made numerous embodied versions of himself, according to the bodily mode of all Observers.

He situated them with the tribes, dwelling with them.

He created a unique body for himself, one that would not age, tire, or suffer harm, and from that time forward he made the Quantum journey through the wormhole back to HomeWorld infrequently, only when it was necessary to oversee the operations of the cadre dwelling within the mechanical systems and quantum fields of Collective and its Continuum.

On Earth he planted stories in the imagination of the people he lived with, preparing them generations in advance to go to certain places, so that they could fulfil his requirements.

He was their guide.

There was little room for error, even in the experimental stage, he planted mnemonic devices in their rituals to lock down their responses to his commands.

Jim made himself the indispensable counselor to the royals, to emperors and priests, both through the ministry of his doppelgangers and through his interaction with them in his primary incarnation.

He was the king maker, the seer and the sage, the principle advisor and the grand vizier.

He wove stories into every culture. Creating narratives that functioned like auto-hypnosis for his audience, building on and augmenting the mnemonic tropes he had carefully laid down in prior generations.

Through these procedures he had control of all human government, and with that control he subtly guided them through periods of strife and hardship, through war and famine.

He managed the controls invisibly, careful not to draw attention to his activities, mindful of how the smallest decisions could ripple outward in concentric rings, creating patterns that could potentially alert the Continuum to his clandestine activities.

He moved exceedingly slow for the sake of safety and security.

He knew that the Continuum had sent other Observers to Earth, to watch him and monitor his work. This was against protocol, it was evidence of the fact that the Continuum operated beyond the Control of the Collective, but those factors were immaterial.

Jim built programs into the social order of humanity that echoed the norms of the Empire, as if he were preparing them for inclusion in it at some future point.

To the Observers assigned to watch over him he appeared to accomplished those things without violating the non-interference directive. Jim masked his work so as to make it seem like an organic development; the emergence of a caste system, the organization of the priesthood, the mythological tropes that pointed the faithful to a hope beyond this world, a hope for themselves and their families rooted in a belief in reincarnation.

He included in his schemata of beliefs the notion of karmic debt, instilling it deep within the psyche so that it governed every function of human culture, the cult of sacrifice, and perpetual service to the invisible gods, and their ancestors.

Jim constructed paradigms and mythological tropes, building archetypes he then translated across the globe.

The same story repeated itself in the hearts and minds of every human being.

He fashioned a common typology of heroism, which he instilled into every language and every culture.

Every human child was raised with the aspiration of fulfilling this model, heroism became a key building block of their aspirational identities. And in the paradigm, Jim was always positioned as the seer. Only the most extreme adverse conditions of poverty, abuse and fear could undermine it, and even then it could not be eradicated.

Through ritual imagery and narrative he created a guidance system that would shape the emotional and cognitive foundation of the vessel he was forming, through this conditioning they would discover love, altruism and a sense of belonging.

Thousands of generations would pass before the singular person emerged from the masses, when that child did emerge, their fate would be to bear all the pain and suffering of the human race, to bear it gladly as a willing victim, they would channel it like a weapon straight into the heart of the Continuum.

He conveyed to the Collective that he was merely interested in creating a planet with the greatest warriors the Empire had ever seen, so that in the fullness of time, when the tendrils of the Empire finally reached Earth, the conflict that ensued would produce a drama like no other.

This played well with the Continuum. The drama was predictable, build them up and tear them down.

The Continuum had no intention of letting Earth throw off the Imperial yoke. The entire planet would go up in fire first, but it relished the notion of a great conflict, therefor it did not impede the Observer’s progress.

Jim inserted himself into every mythology; through incarnation after incarnation.

He was ageless Methuselah and Melchezedek of Salem, he was wandering Mordecai, he was blind Tiresias and far sighted Heimdall, he was Taleisin the Merlin, he was many more.

He sat in court, he gave advice, he listened and he played the fool.

He created a role for the wise man, standing apart from the power that organized the social structures in every society, in every age; a role for the sage and the sibyl.

He wrote the prophetic tracts the guided the destiny of empires.

His efforts held the world together in times of darkness and famine, he preserved the ancient records for one generation, and destroyed them in another so that he could test the cognition of his subjects, proofing their connection to each other through the cynergenic field.

He was the perpetual advisor, teacher, confessor and tutor.

He whispered in the ear of Manu and Hammurabi, he spoke from a column of fire, he guided the hand of Ashoka, he wandered the world in robes of ochre and saffron.

He was a catalyst for change in one moment and the voice of tradition in another. He pushed and he pulled, he held fast and he set free.

He was the feathered serpent, the voice from the cave, the man in the tree.

He was often captured in images, riding on the back of a water buffalo, or as a tiny creature resting at the center of a web.

He was a chameleon and a trickster, both trusted and feared, he was foe and friend.

Jim experimented relentlessly; on himself, on the human population and on the planet. He did so with cool calculation, telling himself that his motives were pure, that the suffering he wrought served a higher utilitarian purpose, that he was a scientist.

As detached as he was from the ordinary vicissitudes s of life, he still had needs related to the esteem of others, and he fulfilled them through his work.

There were mysteries on Earth that had not been found on any other world. Those mysteries had to be explored, understood and exploited.

He was careful not to let his research advance the state of human technology too rapidly. He was in a constant state of temptation to take over the governance of the planet and reveal to humanity its true history and its real purpose.

He wanted to see them benefit from the science he could deliver to them, but he was forbidden from doing so, it would be a violation of the Observer’s compact with the Continuum, and it would put all of his planning, including the planet itself at risk prematurely.

If he drew the scrutiny of the Continuum in any measure greater than he already did, he feared that would lead to his being discovered, and so he spent more energy at the task of shaping human culture, than at developing its technological arts.

The Collective thirsted for the stories that came from Earth.

Its dramas were brutal and primal, its art and its poetry had a beauty that were not emulated anywhere else in the Imperium, because the social elements did not exist anywhere else that could produce it…and there was something else that neither the Collective nor the Continuum could ascertain, but Jim knew what it was.

He began to suspect that the world from which the Ancient People had emerged had similar properties to Earth, not understood in the time of the Ancient People, but which shaped them, making them into the people they became.

Jim became adept at all the tools of spy-craft. He employed them with expertise of a spymaster, drawing on the resources of the Collective to augment his intuition, applying everything he could to the situation on Earth, with what technologies were available to him in society, as well as the other technologies he possessed, he was able to keep hidden from the subject population.

The Continuum was short on resources for monitoring society without its vast array of remote sensors and communications devices. But Jim augmented those systems, developing analog variations of them for his own access.

Through these measures he was fully actualized.

He established secret societies that monitored every aspect of human government, every religious institution, as well as the agents of the Continuum who came to earth to monitor him.

He took great care to keep these hidden.

The confessionals became the primary model by which the people reported upward all the things he needed to know about the subtle shifts taking place in the collective experience of humanity

He took measures to protect himself, hiding his assets, constructing the technological and human vehicles to execute his will. Trusting in his team of dopplegangers to work tirelessly toward their common goal.

He knew from his spy network that some of the Observers who came to monitor his work were not dedicated to the Continuum in anyway.

They could be covertly coopted.

Others were fanatically devoted.

These had to be controlled or killed.

None of them were supposed to be on Earth at all, according to the Observer’s protocol, but protocol never stopped the Continuum from doing as it pleased.

And nothing ever stopped Jim from doing the same.

Jim positioned himself as an administrator, replicating himself as often as he needed to, in order to position himself as a servant of governments world-wide, as a specialist, a functionary and a problem solver.

He was always the indispensable man.

He rarely took on a role as the lead of an agency, always working in support of the human systems, managing them.

He was good at it.

He drew on the vast knowledge of governing bureaucracies that were available to him through his data bases on the function of the Empire.

He always sought to be his own counterpart in governments across the world, whether those governments worked together as allies, as competitors or as enemies.

This made the coordination of government easy and it was rarely disrupted by human interference.

He was always able to parcel out enough information to move events in the direction he wanted, whether or not his interests lay in war or peace, he was able to produce the results that rulers and governments desired.

The slowness with which events moved troubled him.

They were not slower than the eons he spent in contemplation, stretching his consciousness into the every corner of the Collective, and they were not slower than the ages he spent alone in the deep of space moving from planet to planet in his quest to discover the whereabouts of each and every colony seeded by the Children of the Ancients.

The slowness of those periods was marked by isolation, in those times he did not feel the pressure of impending doom.

The events on Earth were different, there was a clock ticking, there was the volcano, and when it blew his best chance to realize his ambition would blow with it.
Appendix Chapter Three, Breeding
Jim abducted people, he experimented on living tissues. He dissected cadavers and sent genetic materials back to the replicants of himself, to his myriad of dopplegangers that were spread throughout the Empire. He sent them through space on a journey of thousands of light years.

He used that genetic stock to introduce subtle changes into the DNA of the population of thousands of worlds. The subjects of his experiments were became a source of sustenance for him to carry out a material change in the condition of the citizens of the Empire.

He used them like food or medicine to revive a dying person.

Jim discovered something in the human race that affected the consciousness of its entire population, nanoparticles of the heavy metal magnetite collecting in the cerebellum, interacting in a unique way with Earth’s magnetic field, allowing for the possibility of psychic cynergy among the humans of Earth.

This dynamic established the conditions for Earth’s nous-sphere.

He found the abnormalities in himself first, after recognizing something unusual in the cognitive functions of his host body. He was hyper alert to the feelings and thoughts of the human beings he lived among

He tested the limits of his empathic powers, and he found at the upper end of its natural curve that he could cross the threshold into true telepathy.

It was an outstanding and surprising revelation.

He isolated the physical components of the telepathic abilities in himself first. Then he found the same components distributed in various degrees throughout the bodies of Earth’s human population.

He developed programs to augment it.

Jim understood a great deal about the phenomenon of consciousness.

The Collective had been engineered on the basis of its science.

Jim’s personal history, suggested to him that he had been among the original members of the Collective, one of the engineers who had built the first machines that captured the essence of the individual to house them in a perpetual state of being.

He had seen the early failures and witnessed their first successes. He had been among the first volunteers to enter the Collective, after the technologies had been perfected.

He possessed these memories, though he was doubtful of whether they actually belonged to him. He had not always remembered them, but the memories came with him when he emerged from the great sleep.

Even if they were not his own, he owned them now. He owned them completely. They comprised an essential part of his identity.

He understood that consciousness is essentially an electromagnetic phenomenon. He did not understand why consciousness of the type that the Ancient People possessed, had emerged in his ancestors and nowhere else in the known galaxy, except possibly on the planet Earth.

Jim hypothesized that there was as element at work in the cognitive process of human-beings, nanoparticles of magnetite, which had bonded with the human brain in a strong link, connecting each person to its magnetic field and through that field to one another, thereby creating a field of cynergy not un-like the electromagnetic fields that comprised the Collective.

The type of consciousness which the Ancient People possessed was not merely a product of their genetic endowment, it was also a function of their interaction with a unique environment.

This is what he found on Earth.

He theorized that no species could advance to the point of becoming a spacefaring civilization if their home planet did not have these properties, properties which allowed the inhabitants to connect with one another through a subconscious field.

Creativity and inventiveness happened there, through an unconscious collaboration in the nous-sphere.

Jim came to believe that the Ancient People had created the Collective at the height of their scientific achievement, on a world that had these same properties. They subsequently traveled to other worlds, built colonies and seeded life on a million other planets, on planets that did not have such properties, while in the meantime, their cradle-star went supernova, destroying the world that had spawned their civilization.

This was a secret that he had to protect, keep safe and secure.

He could not go back and study that planet to confirm his hypothesis.

Jim developed a secondary interest.

For the first time in over a billion years he wanted something more than to pursue the destruction of the Continuum and the dissolution of the Empire.

He feared that another version of himself would at some point abandon the plan he had devised, but despite his fears he pushed forward. He used their agency to conceal his covert activities; on Earth, throughout the Empire and on HomeWorld.

He advanced his clandestine ambitions against the Continuum.

There were many times when he had to sacrifice the lives of his dopplegangers. When he had to shred the consciousness of one of his ghosts dwelling in the circuitry of HomeWorld. He always did so with great reluctance. In every instance he saw his own likeness to the Continuum, as if he were just another monster in the machine.

The knowledge he gathered was everything, he deemed that it was worth the cost. He believed that those whom he sacrificed believed the same. They belonged to one another through their absolute commitment to their ideals.

Through his testing and experimentation, Jim found that nowhere else in all the Empire did the unique genetics of the population combine as they did on Earth, combining to form the electromagnetic structure of an orgainc cynergenic field.

He experimented on tens of thousands of people, both the living and the dead.

Every single one of his living subjects spent the remainder of their lives in shock and terror, in fear and wonder, as they were slowly peeled apart in the sterile chambers of Jim’s laboratories, an environment that was completely foreign to them, by machines they had no frame of reference for.

The chambers were cold, brightly lit, filled with shining steel, and gravity defying objects.

After thousands of years of putting people under the knife and the microscope, he finally found the proof, a mutation in the genetic profile that allowed for the critical capture of the magnetite nanoparticles, housing them in the cerebral cortex, a concentration strong enough to allow for a cognitive connection that linked the humans of Earth, one to another, via the planet’s magnetic field, the strength of which formed an organic cynergy, a naturally occurring version of the Collective that the Ancient people and Jim as one of them, had engineered long ago.

The mutation had been a side effect of one of the many that had been devised by the Ancient people on their way to Earth. The capture of the magnetite created a kind of antenna in the human brain, interfacing with the electromagnetic functions of human consciousness.

This had not been intentional, nevertheless…it was real.

Jim’s research led him to believe that similar conditions must have held together on the native planet of the Ancient people, and not found on any other world since they had left the place of their ancestral birth.

The natural Collective field fostered creativity and ingenuity at levels which could not be replicated without it. On every other world in the Empire individuals lived out their lives in complete insularity, relying on artificial networks and data sharing to approximate true community.

Once Jim understood the mechanism for the way in which the human race interacted with the cynergenic field, he was able to map out the changes for the genetic profile that he needed to establish in order to strengthen and enhance those features.

His discoveries confirmed the necessity of his work and filled him with esteem.

Jim intended to introduce changes into the genetic profile of each tribe at the same time so that he could establish a base set of conditions upon which to build his design, then he would be able monitor the effects of that intervention by breeding the traits he was looking for into individual tribes separately.

In the scale of time that he and the Collective were used to operating in, he had precious little of it to work with. He had tens of thousands of millennia but her feared he would lose the gambit before the next great planetary disaster struck Earth.

He planned to optimize the retention of nanoparticles in the cognitive structures of the brain, making each person a transmitting and a receptive node in the field of consciousness. He intended to stabilize that by giving each and every one of them access to the type of memory that was locked into the root-code of their genetic structure. Jim theorized that enhancing their access to their genetic memories would contextualize the input they were receiving from the nous-sphere. It would ground them as he actualized them.

He took his greatest risk by exporting his work off world, he sent tiny vessels speeding back across the void on a trek of light years to be recovered by him and his agents at the fringes of the Empire.

He needed to safeguard his discoveries against disaster and against the possibility of his failure, so that they could be recreated on any other world that the Empire discovered, providing that it had the same conditions that had obtained on the blue-green marble known as Earth.

His struggle would continue even in the event of his failure.

That much he guaranteed.

The application of genetic science was meticulous.

It was artistry.

Jim created physical markers that would manifest themselves in the characteristics of the gene pool he was developing. He could tell at a glance whether an individual was a part of one of the control groups he was studying, or an outlier.

There were many markers for every tribe, these guided him; pigmentation, hair color, eye color, the presence or absence of freckled skin; moles and birthmarks, these told him different things.
The markers helped him map his progress toward his signal goal, which was the birth of a human being possessing a mind powerful enough to harness the fullness of human consciousness, and stable enough to channel all of its raw emotion, the pain and fear that would be caused by the coming cataclysm, and transmit it through the quantum field of the worm hole like an invading host, directly into the Collective, to wield it like a battering ram against the Continuum.

He was a weapon smith practicing a different kind metallurgy.

What he was forging would be the deadliest weapon ever constructed.

He was weaponizing consciousness itself.

It would hit the Collective with the destructive force of a billion stars, or so he told himself when he was thinking of his work in the terms a poet might use.

When he found himself in this soliloquy he realized he had gone far beyond his original mission, which was the elimination of the Collective and the eradication of the Continuum.

He was being shaped by his sojourn on Earth, just as much as he was shaping humanity.

Jim understood the risks he was going to take. He was about to recreate the same type of risk that he had engineered on the HomeWorld, the duplication of his consciousness, as many times as was necessary for him to be able to carry his mission forward on the limited time scale that was available to him.

Jim was resolved to plum the limits of his discovery, if there were any limits to what he had found.

The difference between what he was doing on Earth, and what he had accomplished on the Central Planet were considerable. In both locations he needed multiple-independent nodes of action. On HomeWorld, each and every node was connected by its field of collective consciousness.

They were a society of one.

On Earth their connectivity through the cynergenic field was more tenuous, it operated on a different frequency.

It was less immediate.

Though it was possible for each unit to act autonomously on HomeWorld, each copy of himself could break away from the plan, or sabotage it, but he and the other members of his private cabal would have known immediately, and while this possibility existed, there was not even the slightest hint of defection.

On Earth he was faced with considerable unknowns.

Jim cloned himself, planting his dopplegangers in every population center around the world, each one connected to the prime version of himself through the cynergenic field, as they were on HomeWorld, only this field was weaker, there were gaps in it, places where individuals could hide, or disappear.

Continuum would have destroyed the Earth with him, it would have delighted in it.
Appendix Chapter Four, University
Through his advice and authority Jim shaped the burgeoning cultures of human civilization.

He established centers of learning among the tribes, even while they were pre-literate, he built up systems and oral traditions by which they captured and recounted their histories, and those took the form of narratives that would take decades to master.

Through these schools he guided the people’s understanding of agriculture, giving the growing population mastery over their food supply. He taught them the secrets of building, and he foster in them a patience that allowed them to track the movement of the stars.

He trained them to manage calamities in this way, to preserve their fragile way of life.

He conditioned them with mnemonics, to remember who they were, what their ancestors had done, and he worked into those memes the control mechanisms that would allow him to have sway over the people for all future generations, through secret codes built into the language structure.

He took these psychological sciences, neuro-linguistic programming to levels they had never been before. These were the tried and true conditioning techniques of the Imperial Cult, but in the operative context of Earth’s cynergenic field their potential was greatly magnified.

The schools of learning he developed became the centers of civilization, the locus of worship, they became the distribution centers of food and those who cared for these places became the custodians of clean water, purveyors of the medical arts, teachers and priests.

It took thousands of years, a time frame that was nothing to Jim, but was exceedingly long for the people of Earth. In that time these centers became temples, cathedrals and monasteries, and ultimately they became the universities and colleges of great cities, one institution taking the place of the other, built on top of the old foundations.

Logic was the icon Jim knelt beside, logic was his Grail, his object of devotion.

He drilled his fetish for logic, his strict adherence to it, deep into the structures of the institutions he built.

The institutional bias was always for logic, a dispassionate and utilitarian world view.

There was safety in logic, there was predictability.

The power of logic was demonstrable, and belief in its power was ingrained into every level of the schools he founded.

People are not logical by nature, they have to be conditioned to it.

The languages they spoke created modes of thinking that were more and less suited to it.

Jim left some groups to be wild, never touched them with the machination of logic.

He kept them as a control group, to measure the effect of their presence on the group mind.

Other tribes were built around intricate webs of logical assumptions.

At different points in the development of a society he engineered disasters which took away the institutions that undergirded the transmission of logic.

He starved those societies of it, allowing them to regress into natural states of animal emotionality, of fear and suspicion.

Then he would bring it back like a healing balm and watch while the people renewed themselves and their cultures through the influence of it.

Within the great-stone walls of the institutions he founded, Jim formed secret societies to protect and carry out his work. This allowed him to focus his attention all around the globe, guiding the development of civilization with a slow-steady and invisible hand.

He layered control devices into their collective memory, repeated through the stories they told and the lists they memorized, in the tropes of poetry they wrote into their beating hearts.

He controlled them through the archetypes they bonded with, through the myths they constructed, that gave meaning to their lives.

His work was art.

His art was a weapon

There were a myriad of concerns to manage in the detailed labor of engineering the living-vessel he needed so that Jim could deliver the crippling blow to the Continuum.

The human body had developed a reliance on aggression as a survival skill, but raw power would not be enough to dislodge the Continuum from its control of the HomeWorld and all the systems of the Central Planet.

He need to create doubt and fear, he needed the Continuum to turn its eye inward, and collapse on itself. This required that the entire field of consciousness belonging to the Collective do the same thing.

The colonists who had come to populate Earth had come to rely on swift action for the mitigation of crisis, this had to be tamped down to ensure the survival of the tribes, to keep them from tearing one another apart. They had a proclivity for war that was driven by fear, by worry over the allocation of limited resources in times of great scarcity.

Jim needed the power and dynamism of the aggressive impulses which the Ancient Explorers had bred for (albeit unintentionally) on their ages-long trek across the galaxy, but he needed this to be modulated by conscientiousness, and bent toward the most supernal values.

Jim methodically conditioned altruism into the social mythological norms of consciousness he propagated among the humans of Earth.

He established defaults in his human subjects that served as capacitators, allowing great rage to be channeled into protectiveness, and for the individual to instinctively risk their own self for the sake of the whole which they represented.

These fail safes followed the religious programming of the Imperial Cult in many of its dictates, and so Jim’s efforts in this regard were seen as a form of preparation for the coming of the Empire, as such it did not raise suspicion with the Continuum.

Jim expended incredible efforts at the habits and practices of concealment. He risked everything if he was discovered.

The truth had to remain hidden.

He had to be careful with how the genetic properties, and psychic qualities he was engineering into the human race manifested themselves in the population. If the Continuum were to discover these, even if he was able to hide his role in engineering them, planet Earth and the Human race would be doomed.

In order to conceal his work he also had to be on the lookout for spies from the Observer Corps, for any manifestation of the machinations of the Continuum interfering in his work.

To carry out his work in a state of concealment, Jim introduced subtle changes into the genetic profile of the human being.

There were moments when he used the transmission of a virus to affect widespread mutation, and at other times he was more precise, changing the genetic profile in targeted ways, family by family. He monitored the families he was experimenting on for generations; following them, normalizing the changes he had introduced before spreading those changes outward.

It was the most intricate of all puzzles.

He pieced it together under extreme duress.

He experienced great pride when he reflected on his efforts.

All the things he was aiming for had to be kept in a state of constant tension, with multiple trajectories kept isolated from one another until they were ready to be blended with other parts of his study.

He was busy, and everything he did had to be guarded, kept secret, the systems that he put in place to protect them were artificial and unnatural. They were so extensive that he ran the risk of being exposed, simply by virtue of the fact that he was taking measures to protect his work.

His research was slow, meticulous and exhaustive. As his experiments progressed he began to uncover memories of his own that recalled the initial work he had participated in, work which led to the creation of the Collective.

Those memories confirmed for him a narrative concerning the Ancient People which he had suspected was true, but had previously doubted, thinking that they could be false memories from an artificial narrative he might have lived in his private world.

He had no way of independently verifying this until he began to study the electro-magnetic frequency that comprised the consciousness of human beings.

Jim began to peel back the barriers that separated one person from another, exposing them to each other, plumbing the limits he discovered, finding where the threshold between one human consciousness and another actually existed.

As he delved into this field of research his subjects became deranged, unstable, so he learned to manage their confusion medicinally, through the intersection of chemical aides and frequency blockers.

Madness and insanity followed his subjects into the breeding pool, in some cultures he established cultural protections for these people, allowing them to thrive and procreate at random, they became holymen and holywomen, oracles and shamans.

In other cultures he isolated them, constructing social taboos that identified those traits early and deliberately ostracized them.

In all cases they became fodder for his studies, their activities were communicated upwards to him through the institutions he developed.

As much as Jim pretended to care for humanity, in the final analysis human beings were little more than laboratory animals in service to his greater purpose.

Jim observed the subtle changes taking place in the human population; in the electromagnetic frequencies he monitored, emanating from their cognition and its nearly imperceptible influence on the electromagnetic fields proximate to them.

The patience he had mastered while he was coming back to consciousness, coming out from the long-silent interval of the great sleep, and later during the sequestration and his imprisonment, and later still, on his sojourn as an Observer, leading the thousands of missions he went on to track down the lost colonies of the Ancient People, tracking them all the way to Planet Earth.

He studied these patterns with extreme patience as he pulled the genetic structures of human beings apart, sequencing and resequencing them, combing and recombining them, manipulating the proteins and amino acids that formed the tiniest links in the chain of their genetic profiles.

He reduced them to the foundation of their being, with the objective of strengthening their access to their genetic memory, and enhancing the retention of the key particles, like magnetite and lithium, which allowed for the individual person to connect with the Earth’s cynergenic field.

Jim was pleased with what he found in his subjects. He was encouraged by their reaction to his work and the feedback he received.

Whether the individuals adjusted to and thrived from the alterations he introduced into their genetic lineage, or whether they suffered, experienced madness, alienation and pain, Jim was pleased.

Relatively few the experiments he conducted resulted in death. Most came through the changes alive, aware and able to procreate.

He established different social paradigms in various cultural groups for how to manage the population of the gifted, and he coordinated systems to identify them and report them to him for closer observation as their gifts and talents emerged.

As his work progressed, Earth became home to him, in a way that no other world had.

Jim felt something like happiness for the first time he could remember as he pursued his mission. After age upon age of pursuing his cold purpose, the experience of life on Earth made him feel a sense of joy, even pleasure.

He experienced a sense of safety and personal security emanating from the cynergenic field. He felt a deep connection to humanity, and an atavistic connection to the replicants he had made of himself, with all of them working towards the actualization of a common goal.

He was filled with a sense of purpose, and if gratified him as he moved toward the completion of it.

These challenges and the surmounting of them brought him another kind of joy.

He was looking for resolution, and he found it. He found it at the end of the line, in the last remnant of the Ancient People still remaining in the galaxy.

He found it in human beings with their unique abilities, giving him something for which he was eternally grateful, and he was prepared to offer up the whole of it for the sake of destroying the Continuum.

The humans of Earth and the Collective would burn together on the altar of his sacred purpose, to satisfy the trust he had taken to himself, for his own ambition.

The citizens of the Empire would be the beneficiaries, he told himself.

If Jim was lucky he would escape the onslaught. If he did, he was determined to scour the galaxy for another world like Earth. Intending to build a new civilization from there, and a home where he could end his days.
Appendix Chapter Five, Spymaster
Jim could not be everywhere.

He worked tirelessly through the agency of his replicants.

Even with his cadre of dopplegangers he frequently encountered the limits of what was possible for him to do.

The human population grew quickly, spreading throughout the world. Jim guided them to places where they could establish their villages, in areas where the electromagnetic fields were optimal for his research, where there was access to food and water, and where they would develop for the greatest length of time independent from one another.

Jim required autonomous population growth and cultural development to test his hypotheses.

He used his agency to establish networks around the world. He cultivated spies, informants and confessors in every tribe.

They were like spiders spinning. The people had different names for them, calling them priest, shaman, witch-doctor, prophet and oracle.

They were the officiants of the sacred rights.

They were his eyes and ears among the people.

They listened to and recorded everything the people said and did, keeping a special ear out for incidences of the paranormal and psychic intrusion.

They were indispensable to him.

Jim built a global system of interlocking cells.

Each web of spies served their own community first. They were tribalistic in the extreme, and conditioned to be xenophobic as the Continuum prescribed.

Each and every independent cell held allegiances to the people of their own tribe first, but at the highest levels they underwent initiations that opened-up their broader purpose.

They were initiated into the sacred mysteries which gave them a glimpse of the galaxy, of the Empire, of the great Collective Consciousness and the Continuum, which was the demi-urge at its heart.

In the shadows Jim cultivated a secret cabal, hostile to the Continuum, people who were conditioned to believe that their sacred mission was to prepare the world for the inevitable encroachment of the Empire.

Unity would be required of the people of Earth if they were to survive an encounter with the Empire, and to that end they set aside their tribalism, shared information and cooperated together.

Their safety and security depended on it.

There was nothing more important than this, the fate of humanity was at stake.

Jim was extremely selective about who he chose to promote into these ranks. He deliberately chose men and women who had a weak connection to the cynergenic field.

He engineered into their genetic profile capacities for psychic resistance.

He never perfected these, but his most trusted spies were unreadable to ordinary psychics.

They were indoctrinated into the secret societies after careful consideration and vetting, every one was interconnected by their sense of duty and loyalty to humanity itself, and to Jim above all.

They were absolutely trustworthy and their presence allowed Jim the freedom to roam about the world.

The cloak of secrecy was everything.

Jim had to be able to conceal his work from the Continuum. He had to be able to endure its scrutiny at each and every cycle in which he was required to report back to HomeWorld, where he would expose his consciousness to the Continuum, and share his first-hand experience with his brothers and sisters in the Collective.

This task was filled by a replicant, a version of himself who was completely committed to the mission Jim had claimed as their collective purpose. To prepare themselves to pass through the ordeal Jim had restricted the experiences of this one replicant, Jim controlled what it was exposed to, making it so that he had precious few secrets to hide at the moment his consciousness was opened to the powerful examination of the Continuum.

He had to conceal his movements and machinations from the mechana of spycraft that the Continuum had required him to position all around the world; satellites with powerful tools for audio and visual surveillance.

He had to bend to these demands.

He had to be even more careful in consideration of the living spies he knew the Continuum had sent to Earth, his fellow members of the Observer Corps, sent to watch over him and report back to the Continuum covertly.

They were all a part of the Collective, but Jim felt no sense of belonging to them.

When Earth entered the digital age, he had to be even more mindful of his actions because he knew the Continuum and its spies had penetrated the information technologies of nations states, and could use their technological resources to sort massive amounts of data at incredible speeds, thereby increasing the likelihood that he would be discovered grew by an order of magnitude.

Jim orchestrated the development of his international organizations, personally managing the traditions that would allow them to progress, pulling the cloak of secrecy over it, stretching its shadowy tendrils into every facet of human society; the Templars, the Hashishim, the Jesuits, the Illuminati, they all belonged to him, served his bidding, fulfilled his purpose, operating in the shadows, well beneath the notice of the Observers.

Jim continued the meditative practices that he had developed, practices which allowed him to partition his mind and thoughts from the Continuum and his fellow members of the Collective.

He exercised his ability to keep secrets. He did so while probing the mysteries of Earth’s Cynergenic field. It was unlike the artificial construction on HomeWorld in distinct ways, it did not have the smooth-predictable channels of energy, the linear circuitry, and other structural features that were the product of design and intention.

It was organic, it was messy.

In the crucial moment to come he would be exposed to the scrutiny of the Continuum, he would have to keep everything he had been planning partitioned behind a wall of sheer will, until the moment when the disaster struck and then he would have to let it go.

The tension of the timing would be fraught with danger.

He had to keep secrets even from himself, shrouding all of his intentions in mystery, he had to trust that his replicants also trusted him, because like him, they were essentially free creatures.

He utilized the institutions he had developed to test and augment his theories, both concerning his own liabilities and concerning the hidden mysteries of Earth.

Jim was Prime, and he watched over his Seconds with systematic scrutiny. These dopplegangers had to be kept out of the information loop for hundreds of cycles, fulfilling the regular functions of the Observer, responsible for reporting to the Central Planet, hiding from the Collective only the things which Jim had always kept hidden and was practiced at hiding. They had to remain ignorant of the details of the unfolding mission.

The fact that they remained willing, spoke to the purity of his purpose and filled him with pride.

Jim busied himself with work that served a dual purpose, tasks that advanced his personal mission, which also fit within the assignment he had undertaken for the Continuum

He seemed to be devoted to the type of work the Continuum expected him to do; archiving, preserving, recording the history of this world.

Through his international network Jim kept alive the ancient languages that informed disparate groups and tribes of their essential unity, even the original language that the colonists spoke when they crashed on this planet so many eons ago.

He kept them alive through his secret societies, using them as a vehicle for initiation as the members ascended through the various hierarchies.

He hid codes within the prevailing tongues, echoes of those ancient forms of speech that rang out like a bell, or an alarm to the initiate when they heard it.

He created auto-hypnotic tropes which they could not resist once their indoctrination was complete. He moved freely through the circles of power with the use of them.

He could not rely on his machinery to help him construct this network, the risk of its being hacked by the Continuum was too great. Instead he relied on the ancient methods of oral tradition, and complex mnemonics to achieve those ends.

Secrecy was the path to survival.

Through it his purpose became actualized.

Discovery would put the Earth in jeopardy, and he might not know it until the warships appeared in the sky above the tiny blue green planet, Imperial juggernauts large enough to blot out the sun.

That would threaten everything.

Jim bided his time.

He was forming a living weapon and he layered into its consciousness an implicit acceptance of cyclical nature of revolution, of the rise and fall of governments.

The individual that emerged from his work would have to be able to see the destruction that he or she was wrecking on the Collective in a contextual structure that seemed natural.

Jim utilized his network of spies to form political states, to build Empires and dynasties, turning slaves into royalty, making great armies out of herdsmen and nomads, turning bandits into Kings, only to tear them down at the apex of their power, as if it were a natural cycle of growth, death, and rebirth.

This satisfied his ambition, and it satisfied the hunger of the Collective as well.

Jim’s was the unseen hand behind the powers and principalities of the world, he was the invisible whisperer that conditioned the policies of the most powerful people. He would point and they would go, taking credit for the movement to themselves, never realizing the deep influence they were subjected to.

The rulers of Earth never fully suspected how they were being manipulated.

He exercised his power in a variety of ways, overtly and covertly, with stealth and might.

He was a strategist, and none of the tools of statecraft were out of reach for him: gold, sex, power, fear, he employed them like an artist would a brush, or a sculptor would the chisel and hammer.

The actors on the stage rarely knew what was happening in the grand scheme of things. He guided them with the lightest of touches, planting seeds inside their heads when they were children, reaping the fruit he had sewn when it was ripe.

Everything was cultivated and he was the master planter, the invisible gardener tending to everything that grew within his sight.

Jim pushed and pushed, ever-so-subtly to bring coherence to human government, binding them through language systems, tribal allegiances, and systems of fealty.

As time progressed he allowed for the emergence of empires, he formed city states into nations, and principalities into kingdoms.

He implemented different governmental systems to stand in tension with one another, fostering hierarchical systems of governance from the top down, which articulated the divine right of the rulers to rule, of the nobility to inherit both wealth and power.

Against these hierarchies, he allowed for systems of government based on mutuality and common bonds, developed from the implicit understanding that the right to rule stemmed from the consent of the governed.

These were not developments that the Continuum desired, but the drama it produced when civilizations clashed was utterly tantalizing to the Collective.

He wrote the laws that governed the great powers of the world, and he established the ministries which those governments revolved around, relied upon. Within those organizations he planted replicants of himself, and the human cadre of followers who were utterly committed to serving his ideals.

They worked together hand in glove to orchestrate global conflict and its resolution. All in the service of Jim’s mission.

He took extraordinary pains to mask his work, keeping it secret from the Continuum against impossible odds, while keeping the human societies that he manipulated in the dark at the same time.

He did not conceal it all, rumors abounded of secret societies and secret powers, but nothing was ever substantiated to link the rumors to the reality of what Jim had actually built, to what he was actually doing.
Appendix Chapter Six, Approach
There was an endless amount of work to do, and it went precariously slow.

Jim allowed his replicants to organize his network of spies and educators, weaving the webs of surveillance he required, and he empowered one special replicant to deliver his report to the Collective each one hundred year cycle. He shared virtually nothing with this version of himself requiring that it keep only the secrets that they had always kept, the secrets they were practiced at keeping from the Continuum.

The work being conducted on Earth was slow, interminably slow, but in comparison to the millions of years Jim had spent in the great sleep, and in sequestration, the time ahead of him was almost nothing.

On Earth he was acting under a deadline, he had to achieve his ends before the next great catastrophe struck the planet, this made the passage of time seem like torture, as he pulled millions of threads together in his breeding programs, searching for the perfect vessel to carry out his work.

He was like a hunter-gatherer looking for something that did not yet exist, the thing that would sustain him.

He did not even know that it was possible.

He and his replicants acted in concert, they were as one in their resolve. They were free agents, each of them.

There were only rare and isolated moments of betrayal. These were dealt with swiftly, and none of his co-agents ever questioned the necessity of it.

Their work together was a miracle of cooperative effort.

The deployment allowed him to devote his attention to observing and overseeing the mutation of the human stock. Tracking both the wild progress occurring in the unregulated breeding pools, as well as the planned for changes taking shape in his controlled studies.

It was the safest way to proceed.

There were moments in history when Jim thought he had found the individual he was looking for, but the timing was not right, he could not engineer the crises he required in time to take advantage of their gifts, if those gifts could be fully developed; they were born at a time too distant from the moment of catastrophe.

There was a prince in the Himalayas, a fisherman in Palestine, a camel driver in Arabia, each separated from each other by hundreds of years.

The timing was never right.

His work was like sifting the sand of the ocean floor, or the full harvest of finely milled flour through an equally fine meshed screen. He needed to touch every particle, to look at each one as it passed through the sieve.

Jim built systems into the social fabric, systems of reporting that allowed him to identify those who carried the genetic structures he was looking for, so that he could build on them.

He did not have to rely on his network of spies and informants for this. The reporting simply bubbled-up. Over time he learned to take greater efforts in concealing the lives of these extraordinary peoples.

At a glance he could see, a hue in the Iris, the contour of an earlobe, the shape of a thumb, the texture of hair, physical traits that marked a new born child as distinct, they were the talk of the village, and news carried fast.

Investigators would be dispersed.

Cognitive testing followed, and depending on the results, Jim would place an emissary of some type close to the individual; to protect them, to watch over them, sometimes they would be as intimate as a teacher or a private tutor, at other time they might simply be situated as a remote benefactor.

These were always extraordinary people, it was difficult to contain their fame, they had deep connections to their world and their people through the cynergenic field, they were frequently blessed with great physical beauty, strength and power.

Jim would attempt to hide them, to secure their genetic material for his breeding program, and to hide their offspring if he could.

They belonged to him, they were his creation.

His life was one of deep analytical scrutiny, of asserting, testing and rejecting various hypothesis concerning the exact structure within the human brain that would establish the strongest link to Earth’s cynergenic field.

He tested the population of his subjects in hospitals and asylums, in monasteries and convents, in university laboratories and in prisons, sequencing their genes to either enhance or restrict their capacity to carry nano-particles of magnatite and other conductive elements within the brain that facilitated cynergy.

He covertly exported some of his finding back to the Empire where his own covert operatives, replicants of himself received them and inserted some of his work into the gene-pools of selected worlds.

It was a way for him to preserve his work should he be discovered and a disaster befall Earth.

He tested candidates in the military, breeding them both for their strength of limb and their mental acuity. He experimented on them as mercilessly as the Continuum ever did, testing the limits of human courage and despair.

He was as amoral in his pursuit of his vision as anyone or anything that had ever been created, and he knew it.

The genetic line he was searching for slowly came into focus, he mirrored the properties belonging to his studies and built them into the genetic simulacrum of his own body, but only when he was certain of the risks. He personally felt the power of his design and with that he programmed the rest of his aides in the same way.

It gave him greater control and personal security over the autonomous versions of himself, his co-factors in the mission.

In spite of his incredible progress, pulling the desired properties through the human gene pool on Earth was a different matter. It was excruciatingly slow, though it advanced significantly once he knew the properties he was actually looking for.

Jim pushed his program of genetic modification across all fronts.

Year after year he validated his work, he verified the general strengthening and enhancement of the specific features he was building into the genetic endowment of the human race; psychicism, extra sensory perception, access to and facility with genetic memory.

He was always on the lookout for persons born with significant advancement in their connection to the cynergenic field, when he found them he exported those genetic traits to the population at large.

As time went on the changes came more rapidly, it was more than he could manage as a single person, without his team of replicants he would have been powerless to control the program he had set in place

He was moving toward his goal; steadily, inexorably moving, and the exercise was changing him. He had become single minded and fixed on one outcome.

Nothing else mattered for him and he was despotic in his pursuit of it.

The humans of Earth, these Children of the Ancient People, they represented the answer to the Continuum, and he began to imagine a future for himself within the new Collective he was forming.

He fantasized about saving Earth and himself along with it, after liberating the Empire and destroying the HomeWorld, his esteem for himself was completely reliant on these fantasies.

The sacrifice of the human race would lead to freedom across the Imperium, the sacrifice would be great but a remnant would survive, and he along with them.

After liberating the Empire, the Empire would rescue the survivors on Earth. That became his plan.

Jim brought all the threads he had been weaving for his great-genetic tapestry together in North America, in the United States, a nation lovingly referred to as “the melting pot,” in that place his work came to fruition.

Jim guided its development.

It became the indispensable country, wealthy and powerful and a beacon to the world. Its democratic foundation was the antithesis of everything the Continuum stood for, and it infused the people with a mythology, a set or archetypes that conditioned its members to be willing to make incredible sacrifices for the greater good.

It was a place where refugees from all over the world came for the hope of peace and justice, for prosperity and advancement, this allowed Jim to watch over both the random interactions that were taking place in the gene pool at an ever increasing rate, as well as giving him access to the best institution where he could conduct his experiments.

More importantly, his positioning here gave him proximity to the epicenter of the coming disaster, the great caldera volcano lurking at the center of the continent.

When Jim discovered the families which he surmised would produce the offspring he had been looking for he inserted himself into their lives as a counselor, to closely observe them for the validation of his hypothesis, and its actualization.

He manipulated them though his agents, preparing them like an artist might prepare a canvas, establishing the material conditions that would bring about the end he had been seeking.

He waited, he watched…and what he was looking for did not come from the expected quarter.

She came randomly from a discarded thread.

He was delighted about this.

Nature had produced what he had not.

He found that fitting.

Jim thought it was poetic.

They named her Katherine, after the Saint and martyr from bygone Alexandria, the patroness of philosophers.

Jim was a cautions scientist.

He had long since validated his hypothesis concerning Earth’s cynergenic field, though his original hypothesis was not inclusive of all of its properties.

Throughout his thousands of years of research his focus was only on the nature of an individual person’s engagement with the nous-sphere.

Through his programs he validated his theory on how that field could be accessed, the balance of physical properties that had to be present in the human brain for it to function in the collective field, without at the same time driving the person to madness.

It was a grand design in bio-chemistry and bio-physics, in genetic engineering and electromagnetism.

The living organism had to be carefully controlled. Their powers and liabilities depended on nature and nurture, both

He was interested in actively controlling it, not merely the passive experience of it.

He needed the power to actively manipulate the cynergenic field, both for his own use, and to create the perfect weapon for his plan to destroy the Collective and its Continuum.

Through the millennia he sacrificed hundreds of thousands of subjects, condemning them to insanity.

He documented the full scope of their suffering, telling himself that it was a small price for these individuals to pay for the salvation of the whole.

He counseled himself, justifying his crimes on the theory that he was merely seeking to balance the scales of justice.

It was early in the twentieth century when he found her.

Before he did, Jim had begun to despair.

He was only a few decades away from the cataclysmic event that he intended to use as the force behind his attack on the Collective and the Continuum.

He believed he was running out of time.

He had identified a few possible candidates, but based on their cognitive testing and the stability of their psyche, he knew that they were not strong enough to manage the psychic connection, between Earth and HomeWorld, the cynergenic energy he required his vessel to channel was unknown, therefore its strength had to have no discernable upward limit.

Jim had attempted to engineer a prototype of his replicant body to stand in the place of this vessel, but he failed time and time again. He and his replicants could access the cynergenic field telepathically, but there were limits to what they could do there. There were dimensions of complexity to the nous-sphere, complexities he had not been able to fathom, and would not be able to until he found the object of his intention.

Just as he was beginning to give up hope and plan for one of his alternatives, she emerged from an obscure corner of his field of research.

Jim found Kathy, at long last.

She was the thing that he had been searching for, she was his Holy Grail, she was the sacred vessel that would carry his ambitions and deliver justice to the Continuum.

He took control of her.

In the end, her parents were grateful for the opportunity to give her up. Jim was primed to begin her preparation as the holy victim.

Appendix Chapter Seven, Kathy
Jim had been despondent until he began to receive reports from his network concerning the birth of an extraordinary child.

When he found Kathy and tested her skills, he also set out on a detailed examination of her heritage, mapping each contact he had had with her line down through the millennium, through every root and branch of the family tree. Though he did not require this for proof, the study confirmed for him that she was the one.

He had no doubt; Kathy was the product of his ambition. She had received all of the crosses which he had been managing in other lines; only, she had received more, happening at different intervals, her line had incorporated more stabilizing structures in it than he had wanted to build into the genetic profile of his prime candidates.

Now he saw his error, and he was grateful for it.

Kathy did not come from one of his principle studies, she was a wild card.

He thought that was poetic.

There was something uniquely human about the way Kathy just crept-up on him with her fully realized potential.

Now that she had arrived and Jim had examined her, he knew that it could not have happened any other way, and he took this lesson to heart.

Of course he had to manage her upbringing and test her abilities exhaustively, but he had to remain distant at the same time. He was afraid that over-interference might spoil his work, or like a watched pot, she would never boil.

He needed her to boil. Jim needed that sustenance.

As Jim reviewed the file on Kathy’s background he began to feel remiss. He had failed to notice many things, and he began to wonder how many other things he had missed over the decades. He worried that this was an indication that there might be a fatal flaw in his plan.

He felt insecure.

He began to suspect his network of human agents, and even more critically he began to suspect the replicants acting for him, acting as him all around the globe, he began to suspect them of sabotage.

Kathy’s parents had been exceptional subjects, as Jim reviewed the materials related to them, he understood that their abilities and their genetic profile should have been brought to his direct attention years before, but he knew them only from data sheets and statistics. He had only visited Kathy’s parents once each, when they were still children, and he did that before they ever met.

He had no other direct involvement in their upbringing.

He spent enough time with them to conduct some basic testing, enough to establish a baseline on their liabilities, and to complete the auto-hypnotic coding he subjected every person in his breeding program to.

A key feature of his manipulations was the instillation of a control mechanism, making it so that they are unable to resist his suggestions or the controls of his operatives, should they at any time have a need to move them to perform a specific action in a certain way.

Kathy’s parents were docile, kind people. They possessed exceptional mental acuity, and artistic abilities but they were unexceptional in other ways.

They met and became coupled up through seemingly random interactions. Like attracts like, and this was not entirely unusual for subjects in his breeding program.

He saw that he had approved their union though he had done so without having conducted any further interviews with them, and yet they produced the child that he had been looking for, in a seemingly random union.

Because of this extraordinary happenstance Jim viewed Kathy as a miracle.

She was a gift.

Jim secretly delighted in the unexpected, but there was very little that took him by surprise. He was steeped in the examination of possibilities and probabilities. For millions of years his experience of real-time was merely a reduction of long range forecasting, down to the point of actuality.

Kathy’s parents were not in Jim’s main line of research, and so her emergence from that field was a surprise.

In the twentieth century, as the volcano slumbering beneath Yellowstone began to show signs of an imminent eruption, he began to narrow his focus. This caused him to miss things. He had screened Kathy’s parents and approved of their union, but he had rejected the probability matrix which suggested they might produce the fruit he was looking for.

He did not expect the vessel to come from them. He was searching for it in an entirely different part of the world. He expected a male, and he expected that male to come from one of his main lines of research.

He wanted that to be true, he wanted to have control over the person who emerged as his prime weapon, from the beginning to the end.

He was wrong.

Kathy’s arrival was unexpected, it did brought him joy, but it also caused him to doubt himself and everything he had done.

He only visited Kathy and her parents after receiving word that their child had manifested interesting abilities.

Interesting was an understatement, she was phenomenal, possessing both a strong link to her genetic memory and the greatest sensitivity to the cynergenic field he had ever measured.

She had other savant capabilities that he had not counted on or imagined possible, but which proved crucial to her training.

Jim was cautious.

He needed her to belong to him, fully, willingly and without reservation.

He concluded that in his own management of the breeding program, his own interference in it led him to miss obvious queues, which if he had not missed would have led him to the end sooner.

He no longer trusted himself.

Jim sent proxies to her parents, human agents to watch over her development, people who were under his control, but who had no knowledge of the secret societies they belonged to.

He proceeded with the utmost care.

Jim engaged the full scope of his international intelligence and security apparatus to protect her, while at the same time allowing her to develop in as normal a mode as possible.
It was vital that Kathy be grounded in the human experience, be empathetic toward suffering, attuned to the necessities of justice, to desire justice for its own sake.

Jim’s proxies conducted cognitive tests to confirm what Jim suspected, to confirm that Kathy’s intelligence was off the charts.

She was unique.

She possessed a powerful consciousness that had to be guided through the final stages of its organic growth and maturation.

It was precarious.

Jim knew that Kathy must develop the tools and skills to wield her power, or insanity would ensue.

Jim found himself operating on two distinct tracks.

On one track he was fighting against time: the super-volcano in Yellowstone was going to erupt, and when it did it would kill tens of millions of people in a matter of minutes, hundreds of millions within hours and billions within days.

Through the power of his sensors and monitors he knew when the blast would occur, he had timed it down to mere minutes, he would be able to control the timing within a matter of seconds through the use of the explosives he and his team had situated in the critical structure of the volcano’s magma chamber.

He could make it happen sooner if necessary, but he could not delay it.

This filled him with a sense of urgency.
On the other track he delighted in watching Kathy grow, learn, stretch her muscles, and mature.

He was proud of his accomplishment in her.

Kathy proved to be a miracle, she was greater than anything he had ever hoped for. She was genuinely psychic, with the tell-tale signs of cognitive gifts that would aid her in her development and prevent her from falling off the precipice into insanity.

She was connected to the cynergenic field and rooted in her genetic memory at one and the same time.

Jim surmised that the presence of her ancestral past within her, something which every human being possessed but which Kathy appeared to have unique access to, that this dimension of her personhood stabilized her, and this filled Jim with hope for her.

She was both centered in herself and expansive in her consciousness, she was grounded and open to everything, and there were mysteries within her which slowly unfolded for him.

Jim had spent hundreds of millions of years contemplating possibilities, considering probabilities, and tracking eventualities as they shifted into actuality.

He was surprised when he discovered the broad range of Kathy’s abilities carefully balanced in the cognitive field of such a small-child.

It had seemed to him as if nature could not produce a person with such poise and grace.

It was as if she was being taught, trained, conditioned to be able to manage the powers of her formidable mind, from a coterie of teachers that were invisible to him.

She had access to her genetic memory and full immersion within the cynergenic field, but she was not the first candidate to manifest such a strong connections, she was merely the first who was not driven mad by those powers.

It was a mystery.

Kathy was a mystery.

She was a self-actualized miracle.

Through his investigation of her aptitude, he began to discover new things concerning the nous sphere. Without being able to prove it, he suspected that there were higher dimensions or frequencies to Earth’s cynergenic field than he himself had been able to access.

He attempted to experiment on replicants of himself, to penetrate the veil which Kathy seemed to be able to move back and forth through at will.

Every experiment ended in a terrifying disaster.

Kathy knew things she could not possibly know. That much was certain. Through his testing of her he surmised that she had knowledge of the past that she had no genetic link to.

He explored the possibility that Kathy could access another person’s genetic memory through her psychic link to them.

He was unable to prove that hypothesis, and the truth behind her abilities escaped him.

Jim was an outlier, as a member of the Collective he stood alone in his criticism of it, this is true, but it was not the case that there were no other critics in the Collective. However, there were no other members who criticized the function and purpose of the Collective itself.

Other critics were critics of process, they were critics of the Continuum, they were critics of the structures that set limitations of their freedom, but not of its existence.

Jim had never touched another member who desired to see the entire thing go away. There were many critics who opted for the great sleep, seeking to be sequestered, and looking for the dissolution of the self, but he had never encountered another who wanted to end it all.

There were times that this caused him to doubt himself. He felt isolated and alone, and not even a period of communion with his replicants could ease that burden.

As the clock wound down and Jim realized that he had not found the vessel for his rage, he began to experience a sense of fatalism and fear of failure that he had long dreaded.

He questioned everything he believed, everything he had thought and done.

Then he discovered Kathy, and Jim looked on her as if she were a gift from the universe itself, as if her arrival was a validation of his purpose.

After her testing was complete he knew Kathy would be able to serve as a conduit. Through her a remnant of humanity would survive. He told himself that he could save them all, there would be time for the Empire to reach Earth before the planet tumbled into its mother star. Through Kathy the Continuum would be dealt a crippling blow, one that would allow Jim to push it over the edge into oblivion.

Kathy would be the agent of salvation for countless Trillions of people. Her sacrifice was demanded.

She had arrived in the hour of his need. Kathy only needed to be prepared.

Jim was ready to teach her.
Emergence 4.0
Part Five (a), Jim

A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Seven, War; Chapters Forty-three through Forty-nine

Emergence 4.0

Part Seven, War
Chapter Forty-three, Division

The event was utterly unexpected.

The crisis brought catastrophe to the Collective and the Continuum, striking rapidly at the heart of the Central System, and thereafter reaching the Empire in a slow moving wave, rolling outward in a series of concussive movement.

As awareness of the event spread through the Observer corps, the Empire reacted.

The Imperial forces had little familiarity with being on the defensive, or with entering a conflict zone in which the parameters of the battlefield were unknown.

Observers across the galaxy faltered, half of them exhibited no care at all about the fate of the Central System, some among them even desired the complete collapse of the Continuum. “Let it fall apart, do nothing,” they said amongst themselves.

They were apathetic.

Those Observers loved the lives they lived, there only desire was to exist as fully embodied beings in the fields of time and space, eating and drinking and reveling in their physicality.

These Observers had long since stopped feeling any sense of obligation to the Collective or the Continuum, which they knew as the most corrupt and despotic force in all the galaxy.

They felt no sense of duty to the Central System, to HomeWorld, or to their shared ancestry with their brothers and sisters in the Collective.

They saw in this moment an opportunity to free themselves from the expectations of their station.

When the Collective established the Imperial Schools and formed the Imperial Cult, it never intended to create a monolithic structure, or a society that eliminated all dissent.

The Continuum did, and it desired the conflict ensue from it.

It wanted the hot drama of resistance, and it felt safe, it felt secure in the belief that such conflicts would never touch it.

The Continuum fostered rebellion on the fringes of the Empire, among the outcastes and the lowest classes, as well as in the hierarchy.

It gave the ruling families, the high priests and leading generals just enough knowledge of the truth to allow skepticism to creep into their worldview, and thereby have a perpetual foothold in the Empire.

The Continuum sewed dissent with one hand and crushed it with the other.

There were many people in the higher orders of the priesthood and in the leadership of the armed forces who knew enough to have lost their faith in the Imperial system, its religion, and its social norms.

They knew the lies that were told to the masses.

They were nihilists, they believed in nothing.

In the moment of crises some among them argued that they do nothing in response to the conflagration occurring on the Central Planet.

They wanted to wait and see what would happen.

They knew that they were controlled by a supernatural force called the Continuum, a power that consumed the resources of star systems to feed its endless appetite for minerals and energy, they knew it and they desired to be free of it. Though they had never before imagined that they could.

They saw this moment as an opportunity, they could do nothing and allow the Continuum to collapse. If they did nothing they would be safe, or so they surmised.

If the Continuum did not falter, if it survived and they did nothing, they might not be held accountable for active insurrection.

A debate raged among the general staff.

Most wanted to do something to free themselves from the malevolent influence of the Continuum, they did not believe in its teaching.

Most of them were in fact atheists, they abhorred the imperial cult and their subservience to the priesthood.

They were as divided as the members of the Observer Corps stationed among them.

Regardless of their desire to take action, to change the fate of the Empire, only a few of the commanders believed the best course of action would be to move against the Central System in its moment of weakness and uncertainty.

These were the bravest among them, perhaps the most reckless.

They had no idea what they would find there.

Not even the Observers knew what they could expect and could not counsel them, they had never been privy to the defenses of the HomeWorld, of the Continuum. They could only assume that those defenses would be formidable.

The Observers guided the discussion as best they could while trying not to give away the fact that they had special knowledge of what was taking place.

Very few of the senior staff believed in the dogma of the Imperial Cult.

Their hesitancy was not based on religious fear or superstition, it was based on the lack of familiarity with fighting against a power with immeasurable resources.

One which they had been conditioned to fear above all things

There was only one person that any of them could think of turning to in this moment of existential dread, but he had left the general staff decades ago, and was now the high priest at the temple of the Imperial Capital.

Fear of the unknown ruled them, fear of the Continuum, fear of failure.

At the urging of the secret Observers, they sent an invitation to the high priest to join their conspiracy, the man who had been their most exalted Marshall.

They asked him to join their conclave, and in that moment they knew that they had played their hand, they were committed.

If El accepted, they would belong to him, he would take them to victory, or down in defeat but they would follow him to the end.

There were far more members of the hierarchy, both in the priesthood and among the general staff who would never have even considered the notion of rebellion against the Continuum.

They were traditionalists, they were loyalists.

There were a far greater number of Observers guiding them than those who plotted against the Continuum.

They were cardinals and bishops and priests.

They were planetary governors and star system commanders.

They were members of royal houses.

They held leadership positions throughout the Empire, across a million worlds. They were loyal to the Empire and its institutions, regardless of their faith (or lack of it) in the religious beliefs and the promises of the Continuum.

They had the absolute majority.

When the crises struck, the Observers associated with this faction were quick to leave their post, to return their consciousness to HomeWorld, to attempt to forestall the collapse of the Continuum.

They were trapped in their mechanoid bodies when they arrived. They were caught in their tiny little prisons, deaf, dumb and blind.

They were effectively sequestered, by Jim who had taken control of the Central System and HomeWorld.

The traditionalists were unprepared for the violence which came at them from all sides.

The Observers among them had been in key positions of leadership, they could not develop a strategy without them.

Being unprepared, they were trapped.

The conditioning that every citizen underwent, both through the Imperial Schools and the Imperial Cult was extraordinary.

Very few citizens were able to resist it.

Among the armed forces the standard conditioning was augmented by a force of cohesion referred to as esprit de corps.

The ordinary soldier did not doubt the vision of advancement, of resurrection, of reincarnation and eternal life, that was promised by the Empire through the great religion.

More than anything else a soldier was focused on those rewards, and the esteem of their comrades.

This made any soldier a very dangerous enemy. They were true believers.

The rank and file could not afford to doubt the things they had been taught. Their willingness to sacrifice themselves depended on it.

Doubt would cripple them in combat, it would leave them vulnerable to feelings of shame at the horrors they were routinely asked to commit.

They risked everything for those beliefs, for fidelity to the Empire, the royal family, the high priesthood and the promise of the Continuum, including their own lives, and the lives of those under their command.

They would follow any order and obey the chain of command in everything.

It made killing their enemies easy and all of their crimes forgivable.

Through the command structure they were fully realized and completely actualized beings.

Without it they were nothing.

Any person, city or planet that they were ordered to attack was to them a non-entity.

The small faction among them calling for rebellion were not incautious men, they understood that they would face fierce opposition from their friends and comrades, people who knew them well, who they had served with, had trained with, or had trained under.

Among those serving in the armed forces, the most dangerous people to the rebellion were those seeking advancement to the priesthood. They were derisively called the God-Fearers. Their ambitions for themselves and their families hung on the slender thread of these hopes.

They were not necessarily true believers, but their ambitions made them sycophantic.

They were the most senior commanders, or soldiers whose social rank placed them nearest to the threshold between castes. They were determined to rise in the service of the Continuum, and its Empire.

The God-fearers were ruthless, determined, and dogmatic. They controlled the bulk of the Imperial forces spread across a million worlds.

Few of these people ever did advance, but the hope they clung to burned in them like a fever, they saw this moment of crises as the moment for them to shine, to prove themselves worthy.

They mobilized the defenses.

They mustered all of their forces from shore leave.

They executed their maneuvers perfectly.

The fleet was under their control.

They gathered together to defend the Imperial throne, which was the only known portal to the HomeWorld of the Continuum.

They were martyrs for their faith.

There is a beauty to military formations when lighted in the ocean of space, a sublime blend of the simple and the complex; every ship, every vessel in motion, it is the greatest of all dances.

The god-fearers never considered that any faction within the Empire would oppose them. They had been conditioned to expect obedience, they cultivated it among their subordinates, rewarded it in those who evinced the greatest capacity for following and sending those who did not to their death in combat.

This was a serious flaw.

They had never engaged a military power in which they did not possess the greater force. The Empire rolled over everything, every person, every planet who would oppose them. The power they brought to bear was only limited by their objectives, their code of conduct, and the rules of engagement those codes articulated.

Every objective, every code, every rule was relative, a dispensation for deviation from a rule or a violation of orders could be had at any time from the Emperor, or the priesthood, speaking on behalf of the Continuum.

The underlying truth that governed the reality of their experience was this: Might made Right.

The Imperial forces were supreme, they were accustomed to being on the offensive, it was an offensive posture that they took where they gathered. They thought nothing of their defenses.

Their maneuvers were totally predictable by those on the general staff who had decided to rebel. From the reserve forces that were left behind on each of the million worlds, to their planetary and star system defenses, which in this moment of conflict were little more than auxiliaries, to where the majority of the fleet had gathered in preparation for the jump to the Central System, there was nothing unscripted about their planning.

They were slaughtered in each of the places where they had gathered; they were slaughtered en-masse.

In a singular moment of surprise, choreographed in a million place at once, they were utterly defeated.

Part Seven, War
Chapter Forty-four, Loyalties

The Imperial system did everything it could to sew divisions among the people; to sew division between individuals, families, tribes, and worlds, between castes, and between ranks, keeping them all in competition for the most basic things, all the way down to food and water, whatever each class and caste needed most to survive.

The Empire was masterful at it.

Paradoxically, it managed to foment all of that division, by dogmatically focusing the attention of every person on the things that actually united them.

Many things united the people of the Empire, such as; language, cult and custom.

Brothers and sisters, cousins, they might compete tirelessly with one another for position in their family unit, but they would reflexively protect the social status of the family itself, just as families would do within their tribal and national structures, or as tribes and nations would relate to their home world.

Fear, and hope were among the most powerful forces establishing this mutuality, and commonality throughout the worlds. There was perpetual conflict, politicking, and maneuvering for gain.

The children of the Ancients evolved in different ways, on their disparate worlds, developing different genetic endowments to manage with differing gravity, differing atmospheres and sources of nutrition. They looked up at different stars, and each world contemplated a different fate.

Their genetic similarities united them.

Remaining unified was a critical component of survival, but the things that differentiated people from one another remained primary.

Nobody was satisfied with their position in society.

Everyone dreamed of advancing to the next level, it was the constant preoccupation of the masses. They desired advancement, either in this life or the next, every detail of their lives was subordinated to this ambition and nothing else mattered.

The people lived in a perpetual state of fear, or unease. They believed their safety and security depended on it.

Even the highest ranking members of the Imperial family were caught up in the notion of advancement, only they knew the truth concerning the end game and their desire was eternal life in the Continuum.

Complacency was abhorrent. Advancement was incumbent on the individual, to push themselves and their families forward. It required cooperative effort, and it could not be done alone.

They referred to it as the ladder of divine ascent.

People were conditioned to loath their own place, but when threatened they would reach out to those closest to them for safety, their sameness reflexively united them.

There was safety in numbers.

The people were united by tribe, clan, village and world; as well as by class, by rank and station, by fear and loathing. This was the result of the Imperial conditioning.

The Imperial schools and the religion of the Empire were extremely adept at concretizing this divisive mode of ideation.

Nevertheless, in every generation, on every world and in virtually every tribe there were those who were born seemingly immune to the coercive controls of the Imperium.

These precious few were motivated by love and altruism, they cared little for their rank, they saw themselves as a part of the greater whole and it did not require effort for them to think this way

It came to them naturally.

The Continuum saw them as dangerous. When it identified them it used them as the key figures in its dramas.

The Empire was vast, stretching like a net through the center of the galaxy.

It was comprised of a million worlds.

The Empire was a necklace of planets strung like gems among the stars, each of them was the locus of identity for the ordinary citizen who inhabited it.

Outcasts were never sanctioned to leave the surface of their world, unless it was to serve in the off world mines.

The serving class; merchants and bureaucrats, farmers and laborers might leave their own world for another in their solar system, but such travel was rare.

Soldiers and priests ventured into deep space with regularity in the performance of their duties, both for combat and for holy pilgrimages.

Every person was marked by the world they lived on, they were genetically aligned to its exigencies; to their planet’s gravity, the composition of its atmosphere, the unique threats rising from a planet’s closed biological system and to the light of their star.

Every person was marked by their world in ways that were both obvious and hidden. In ways that were clearly discernable to the naked eye, and in ways that would only be revealed in an autopsy or under the microscope.

Every person on every world was a descendent of the ancient race of people who first explored the stars, of those who engineered the Collective.

In this way they belonged to one another, and that belonging was constantly reinforced through the Imperial Cult, and the Imperial Schools.

Life had been found on millions of other planets, the Ancient Race had seeded some of it in advance of their colonists arriving there but people, sentient people had never been discovered anywhere else in the galaxy.

Every person was uniquely formed by their own planet, and they shared that common core with their fellow citizens. It superseded everything including language, which itself is amorphous, changing all the time.

The Imperial Schools attempted to normalize linguistics throughout the million worlds of the Empire. They were continuously falling short of their goal.

People speak in codes, in patterns constructed from shared experience, patterns that change rapidly in both space and time; from one village to the next, from planet to planet and generation to generation.

It was a prime example of the chaos inherent in civilization

The mission to normalize languages never ended. The Imperial schools were in a constant state of reaction to the new patterns of linguistics that developed from one era to the next; encountering it, learning from it, reacting to it, influencing it if they could.

Change was the only constant.

Despite the continuous efforts of the Imperial Schools, variation persisted, colloquial patterns bonded people to one another, those patterns were an unconscious manifestation of shared suffering; of triumph, of joy, of anger and of esteem.

Language was the architecture of hope and of resentment both, and that is why the Continuum wanted so badly to control it. Citizens projected their desires for themselves and their families with language. They organized their resistance to the powers that ruled them with the same.

Every rebellion was hidden in secret language, and the full weight of the drama was contained therein.

Language patterns were buried in the ganglia of the central nervous system, they were transferred from one generation to the next as a genetic endowment, and it was a language game that allowed the ancient people to develop the science that created the Collective, with the Continuum as its ultimate end.

The bonds between people, even members of the same family were flimsy, they were unreliable, but some were stronger than others.

People found one another through the things they desired most, bonding with each other through their joy and pain, they gravitated toward the same places. They were even shepherded to those places, to encounter one another through the ever-watchful eyes of the Continuum, which knew the secret musings of their hearts.

There were often elements of contrivance behind even seemingly random encounters, the manipulations behind them were so fine and remote that the individuals involved in them had no ability to detect them. They were doing the bidding of the Continuum nonetheless.

They were cultivated for the drama they would deliver to the Collective.

Shared experiences were the strongest ties, and because of this people unconsciously sabotaged themselves, undercut their hopes for advancement, so that they could remain in proximity to those they loved.

Some would sacrifice their health, their freedom, their future for fleeting moments of pleasure, temporalities that were gone and forgotten as quickly as they came, and the satisfaction of their desire.

Through this medium, incredible tragedies would unfold, as ephemeral as the petals of a flower opening in the moonlight, when for a few brief seconds with no one there to witness it, the flower opens and petals drop.

Children would destroy their parents.

Brothers and sisters would plot against each other.

Parents would sell their children, would devour them to satisfy their hunger for the thing they desired.

Desire would lead a person to walk with open eyes through the gates of hell, embracing their own destruction.

The Collective thirsted for this drama and the Continuum delivered.

Fear was the great lever, the most commonly used instrument in the tool chest of the Imperial conditioners for the coercion and manipulation of the masses.

Fear made the lives, the choices and behaviors of the citizenry more predictable than any other factor.

The Continuum relied on the power of fear more than any other device to achieve its ends in the great dramas it created.

The Imperial Cult had conditioned the people into an absolute belief in the laws that governed death and rebirth, so that even the prospect of death could not overcome the power of fear.

The people projected the dilemmas they faced in this life through their present circumstances, carrying them forward into the world they believed was coming.

Even the most ordinary person believed that every choice they made would echo in eternity.

Fear poisoned the body and it shaped consciousness in the electromagnetic field. Its power was a weight that pressed down on everyone and everything at every moment of a person’s life.

No one could escape it.

Fear was the most powerful emotion, it was stronger than hope, stronger than desire, stronger than hate, virtually every thought and feeling would bend before it.

The influence of fear was all pervasive, its force was like gravity.

Fear catalyzed all of the lesser emotions, tainting them. It conditioned every feeling so that every expression of emotion was a reflection of it.

The one-and-only force of emotion that seemed to be stronger than fear, was love.

The power of love was tested time and time again, every possible manifestation of love was scrutinized by the Continuum.

It was proven.

Love is stronger than fear, stronger than any power that the Continuum could set against it, and true love was exceedingly rare, but through the power of love a person came into their true self, and was able to transcend all the limitations which they had theretofore been beset by.

The love of a mother for her child was the greatest and most genuine source of love, but as children grew into adults and left their families it began to wane.

Competition and desire ate away at the bonds of familial love, more often than not, leaving it in shreds and tatters.

Among every one of the million worlds that constituted the great galactic civilization, the Imperial cult worked tirelessly to frustrate the reality of love, while the Continuum documented in the most intimate details the methods by which love could be undone.

These machinations produced the greatest dramas, the most intense experiences for the Continuum to share with the Collective.

Love is a feeling, like fear, and joy, but love is more, it is a choice made freely by an individual.

Love is the exercise of a fundamental option.

The loving person has made a commitment to see the world and their relationships in a certain way, when this choice is true, it becomes interwoven with the identity of that person.

Fear and hate, anger and desire these were powerful motivators of people, motivating them through coercion, whereas love is choice made in freedom.

Part Seven, War
Chapter Forty-five, Possession
Education in the Imperial schools was not centered on learning as much as it was conditioning.

Every citizen was taught that all good things flowed from the Empire, whatever the individual had to be thankful for, no matter how small, including their daily food and clean water, they could look to the Empire and to the Emperor himself as its source.

The schools beat this perspective into the mind of every person, as the hammer pounds a nail.

The teaching was reinforced at every level of Imperial education, both in the secular schools, and through the religious observations of the Imperial Cult. It brought unity to each and every world despite their distance from one another.

The schools were the hammer, and the cult set the nail.

The people were taught to give thanks to the Empire even for the good things that came from their own hands, the vegetables growing in their gardens, a blanket they had quilted, they gave thanks to the Empire and to the Continuum which undergirded it.

There was nothing that they possessed, or that they ever would possess that did not flow from the Empire’s munificence.

The Continuum and its Empire were the source of all goodness and justice, they controlled the destiny of every living being.

The first gift they gave to the individual was existence, it was selfhood.

Life in the Galactic Empire was like a woven tapestry, with the Continuum dictating how every thread was stretched across the loom, integrating each strand into the fabric of the whole.

The images were constantly changing, moving, developing, even the tiniest detail of the lives of the citizens fed the hunger of the Collective.

The Imperial government was the loom, the Imperial schools and the cult were the shuttlecock, and the Observers in the field were like the hands that pulled the threads through.

The Empire controlled every aspect of home life for the family, how it was employed, whether or not they would advance, how much they could save, how much food was on their table.

To resist the will of the Empire even in thought, was considered to be a grave sin.

A person could not move from one dwelling to the next without Imperial approval. The Empire kept families bound to a single domicile for generations, only moving them if and when their rank changed, and that occurred only if it served the interests of the Continuum, and the narratives it was developing.

This offered the ordinary citizens a sense of normalcy and reliability, of safety and security, while stifling virtually every bit of hope.

Even marriage was subject to Imperial approval. In most cases the Empire did not exercise that control, but it did when it served the broader purpose of the Continuum. A marriage proposal would be approved or denied at the temple, “according to the will of the gods,” the Continuum and the Collective.

Procreation itself was tightly controlled.

For those with means, unsanctioned pregnancies could be terminated. Those who were afraid to report to the Empire or who could not afford an abortion, were forced to abandon their children among the outcasts and untouchables.

The social structure the Empire adhered to was designed by the Continuum as a means of reflecting on the past, on the traditions of the Ancient People who formed the Collective, who embarked on the great space-faring adventures and whose colonies formed the Empire as it came to be.

Every citizen lived out their lives with the possibility of contemplating only a very narrow band of possibilities for themselves and their families.

Hope itself was discouraged, but in that bleak landscape the most powerful hopes would blossom, brightening the lives of the people like flower blooming in the arctic.

Work and trades were hereditary, they were guarded. Farmers farmed, builders built, and fishers fished. From one generation to the next sons followed their fathers into work, as daughters followed their mothers into the birthing chambers and lives of drudgery.

They married and had children within their class and caste, within their occupation, generation after generation.

Soldiers went to war, while priests officiated the sacred rites. The gears of the social wheel turned predictably and only the rarest of individuals even questioned it.

They people did not question the reality the were taught to believe, that they belonged exactly where they were.

Those rare individuals produced the drama that the Continuum hungered for, they were the source of energy that fed the Collective, kept the membership out of its malaise.

There was very little opportunity for an individual or a family to change their inherited circumstances.

As oppressive as this system was, there was comfort in it. The vast majority of the people merely persisted, got by, and did not question what the gods had ordained for them.

Every person was beset by the intense pressure that came with the understanding that their future was completely dependent on every little decision they made in the here and now.

Citizens holding positions of power or authority required balance and poise, the more responsibility they had the more heavily they were scrutinized.

Every person’s life was a matter of public record, every step they took outside the home, every word they spoke. At any time they could held accountable for anything…for everything they had ever done.

The Collective loved to see people and families built up, only to watch them taken down, sometimes over the course of generations, at other time with bewildering speed.

The Continuum gave them these dramas, filling the Collective with the vicarious experiences they craved.

The greatest narratives the Continuum had ever constructed resulted in the destruction of entire worlds, the suppression of rebellion that resulted in total genocide.

The more power a person had the more careful they had to be. Billions of lives depended on their thoughtful application of it.

Such was the case with El the High Priest.

His rebellion had destroyed everything he had ever loved. Then, after his resurrection and his complete submission to Imperial rule, he held posts in which he signed orders that starved quarrelsome population into submission.

He led the Imperial armada on missions that turned entire planets into glowing cinders, sending their raw materials to the central system as an offering to the Collective.

As High Priest El blessed these missions and absolved the commanders of any and all crimes they and their troops committed in the furtherance of it.

Control requires ever greater control; to force it is to lose it. In the Empire the exercise of power had to be done submissively, always in deference to a greater authority..

It was dichotomous.

The Empire cultivated a sense of helplessness, routinely crushing any sense of self esteem, while at the same bonding various groups of citizens together, forging a sense of belonging among the trillions of citizens living on a million worlds.

The ordinary citizen had no say in the destiny of their home-world, they saw it as theirs, and themselves as belonging to it. For the pleb, every link in the chain-of-being was a vital part of their culture and they had a duty to defend it, both in thought and deed.

Their advancement depended on their fidelity.

In the abstract the concept had a quality of beauty, a social symmetry and wholeness that the witnesses to it could not help but appreciate. In reality, every link in the chain was an instrument of bondage, forged together by lies and leading only to ruin.

The ordinary hopes and dreams of the people meant nothing to the Continuum and the Collective, they were merely data-points in a grand drama which they consumed vicariously, and hungered for with an insatiable appetite.

Any sense of control that an individual might feel was an illusion, fostered for the sake of creating a narrative that leant meaning to the lives of the Collective.

A person only had existential worth if they were noticed by the Collective, but that was by no means a guarantee of happiness.

The ambitions of an entire planet could be burnt up and scattered like cinders and ash, if it suited the will of the Collective.

No individual person or planet had inherent value.

The Continuum used the people while caring nothing at all for them, the people in their turn placed their hopes in the Continuum, desiring nothing more than to be elevated to the Collective and thereby to enter into eternal life.

The sacred rites functioned like a dragnet, drawing everyone in, capturing them body and soul.

Every citizen was compelled to conform; the Empire would not accept anything less than complete obedience. Attendance at the temple was mandatory. Few people even attempted to resist, those that did were discovered and subjected to advanced conditioning.

If the priesthood was unable to change the will of the deviant, they were expelled, cast out, they became untouchable.

Conformation to the Imperial way was the focus of the Imperial schools as well. Conditioning of the head reinforced the conditioning of the heart.

The schools provided an intellectual apparatus and frame of context for the religious rites to fill.

The rites of the Imperial cult were grand ceremonies, both simple and complex, they engaged the adherent at every level of their senses, they were imbued with hypnotic power.

The Empire’s goal was to supplant every natural communal bond, the bonds that every person formed instinctively with parents and siblings, with neighbors and classmates, in their villages, in their cities, on their planet of origin.

To condition to believe that there was freedom in bondage, and belonging in alienation, that obedience was the path to transcendence, and self-actualization could only be had in self-abnegation.

The deepest allegiance had to be to the Empire, and to the Continuum beyond it, that allegiance was based on the promise of a reward that was rarely given.

The priesthood used every device at its disposal, controlling the people with music and movement, with mantras and mandalas, through their diet and with drugs. They had honed their techniques over millions of years.

They never fully succeeded in this, and they never quit trying.

The most important thing the ordinary citizen required, both for their prospects of advancement, and to simply keep their place, was access to the right schools, the right priest in the right temple, or simply to have a relationship with their immediate supervisor.

In order to advance a person needed an advocate.

People coveted access more than anything, as such every access point was closely guarded. There were bureaucratic entanglements to negotiate and social hurdles to climb.

The norms of the hierarchies had to be observed.

In the struggle to craft a meaningful life, to provide some comfort for themselves or their families, everyone needed a hand up. They required representation by those who were ahead of them in rank or above them in class and caste.

The entire Empire was governed by systems of patronage and clientage.

To go anywhere a person needed access to authority, they needed access to those able to grant a boon or advance their cause, this was the grand nexus for the systemic corruption of the entire social order.

Nothing was free.

The limits to upward mobility were clear and near at hand. They could only be understood in economic terms.

The economics of advancement were disturbing, unethical, but by and large they were not illegal. It was not illegal to commit one’s child to a life of servitude in your patron’s house, it was not considered unethical to do so if it meant that another child could attend a better school.

Neither was it illegal to use your servants for whatever purpose you intended, even risking their lives for your own purposes, no matter how mundane or banal those purposes might be.

It was in that nexus that the people found their complicity in the crushing of one another’s dreams.

Part Seven, War
Chapter Forty-six, Conflict
It was inconceivable that any force or power could threaten the Empire, the Continuum or the Collective.

They Observers believed that there were no unknowns, which could threaten their safety and security.

There were millions of Observers living on every one of the million worlds in the Empire, occupying every class and every station. They were in firm control of the apparatus of government and of the most oppressive intelligence gathering system ever conceived of, or implemented.

They were taken en masse, and completely by surprise.

The Observers were the first to sense the impending collapse of the Continuum. They understood that this was an existential threat both to the Collective and to themselves.

Some saw opportunity, but few of those understood how ready the citizens of the Empire were to burn down their civilization.

When the Observers finally did realize that something significant was happening, they opened their lines of communication to the Home World. Many traversed the distance to the Central System, only to be captured and sequestered in their mechanoid bodies, rendered powerless by Jim.

Others responded with the tools they had at their disposal, the reacted to protect the Empire, and to guard the access points each of them maintained to HomeWorld, the wormhole-conduits that would carry them to home world.

They experienced life on the defensive for the first time, and like a thirsty and starving man who did not know where to find food and water, they were terrified, filled with existential dread.

Every member of the Observer Corps was beset by overwhelming feelings, despite the fact that their bodies had been genetically engineered to enable them to suppress strong emotions.

Fear drove them, and curiosity also, along with a desire to protect the Home World.

The majority of the Observers made the choice to return to the Home World, using the apparatus under their control to transmit their consciousness via worm-holes across the galactic void, into the mechanical circuitry waiting for them.

It was predictable behavior, and they were trapped by it.

Every Observer had a back-up system on or near the world under their purview. A place that housed a copy of their consciousness, where they grew their doppelgangers, sanctuaries where they felt safe.

They went to their stations, activated the equipment generating the conduits that would take them home, but the apparatus on the receiving end, on the Central Planet did not function as they had expected, and they were trapped in the landing port of the receiving station, effectively cut off from the Collective.

They disappeared, millions of them gone in an instant.

The worm-holes that they opened transmitted data and commands in both directions, these were control systems that the Continuum put in place so that it could manage the Observers. Jim utilized those fail-safes to send destruct signals to those platforms, and they popped-off in a litany of explosions throughout the Empire.

It was chaos.

The remaining Observers numbered only in the thousands, those who held positions of rank and power marshalled their forces to protect the Central Planet, the Collective and Continuum.

They assembled the fleet.

They intended to attack the HomeWorld, to destroy whatever hostile power had taken control.

The formations of the armada prior to its movement into the Central System was a thing of beauty. None of the commanders had ever witnessed such a gathering of strength and power.

It filled them with a sense of invincibility, and stimulated their aggression. Witnessing the power and majesty of the fleet, beholding it, they had no doubt that they belonged to the most powerful force in the universe.

As the imperial fleet dropped into the Central System there was chaos where there should have been order, shock and surprise where there should have been symmetry and syncopation, there was hardly time to get a reading on their telemetry before the violence ensued.

The eyes of the fleet, those who had a view on it, were preoccupied with taking in the enormity of the undertaking they were engaged in, the magnitude of the Central System, the size and scope of the planetary structure surrounding the HomeWorld.

In the first moment, even as the fleet was in the process of calibrating their relative positions to one another, while plotting their trajectory to the center of the system an entire combat wing made their intention to rebel known.

They fixed their arms on the flag ship of the commodore and opened fire.

Projectiles, energy weapons, nuclear arms lit up the void.

Command ships filled with officers who had never once been asked to risk anything, suddenly burst into flames burning their oxygen and fuel in brilliant jets of fire, deep in the dark of the void.

They were stunned, struck by fear and found it difficult to organize a response.

The attack was abrupt, it was devastating, a slaughter.

The rebels fixed their sights on every command ship that did not belong to them and lit those up.

They sought to clear the field.

It was a vision of chaos.

It was combat on a scale that the military academies had not prepared anyone to manage.

The mayhem that ensued was unprecedented.

There was terror, panic, sorrow, and regret, but through it all there was the joy of victory.

The greatest part of the armada turned toward the attackers and joined battle, but they were beset by confusion. Those commanders who could not process the algorithms for course corrections in their head were the first victims of the rebel assault.

They initiated preprogrammed defensive maneuvers, they were predictable, tactics known to their opponents, and because of that they fell right into the firing solutions of their enemies.

None of the commanders had been experienced at taking heavy losses in combat, the forces of the Empire were just too overwhelming in the field. They had only ever experienced small-surprise defeats at the hands of rebel forces.

In this new theatre of combat they were overwhelmed, both militarily and emotionally.

In the vital seconds that were lost while processing the implications of their failure, they cast their gaze on the HomeWorld of the Continuum and prayed for deliverance.

They had been betrayed by their closest companions

The Continuum was absent.

Their prayers were swallowed by the void.

The killing field was vast, it could not be taken in by a singular field of vision.

Millions died in the assault, crushed and burned bodies suddenly froze in the cold and dark of the battle’s aftermath.

It was the final sacrifice of the Imperial Armies.

Tens of thousands of starships burst into flame and were suddenly extinguished in the vacuum of space.

It was a spectacle of incredible beauty, of horror and terror.

It was over mere moments after it began.

The rebellious commanders were unnerved and confused by the ease with which it all transpired, but when they looked to the figure in the high command, the man who had plotted the assault, they understood their victory, because it was him, the Empire’s greatest General, the High Priest of the Imperial Temple, a figure of legend and worship held in the highest esteem, it was El handling the tactics. And it was done.

El’s participation absolved all the rebels of their crime.

Their brethren would never return to this life.

No aid was given to any who might have survived.

Their ships were systematically disabled, and they were left to drift in the ghostly lights of the Home-World

What remained of the fleet had no intention of preserving the old ways of the Empire, they viewed themselves as being on the cusp of a new order.

Their destiny was in their hands.

They were ready to bring the Gods down, to force answers from the Continuum, to have the truth, to bathe in its cold light at any costs.

There were leaks of information through the intelligence services. No-one serving in the insurrection was there for altruistic reasons, their reactions to the events that were unfolding were completely self-serving.

Everyone was looking for opportunities to advance, and with the destruction of the majority of the Imperial Fleet, the rewards to be seized were immediate. Ranks and social standing were being recalibrated in real time.

The rebels only had to succeed in their attack with enough time to get to the temple to ratify their movement.

In the Empire, among its million worlds, the news was devastating to those who were trying to uphold the existing order.

There was widespread mayhem, chaos, thousands of years of pent up rage expressed under pressure.

The Imperial news sources could not keep a lid on it. Every planet was in crisis, and the emergency news traffic was designed to be unfiltered.

As the conflict ensued, reaching its boiling point, suddenly the untouchables and outcasts threw their hands in, in one great uncoordinated wave.

They were reaching for their freedom, actualizing their potential, and they would not be denied.

On every world the priesthood struggled to make sense of things, but they could not, and they could not appease the masses.

They waivered for a time and then began to side with the people.

The plebs wanted revolution they wanted freedom.

Those who could not see the change coming, discovered it in the sudden shock of terrible-violence.

The multitudes gathered throughout the Empire; the outcast, the unknown, the untouchable. They were the overwhelming majority, outnumbering all other castes and classes of people on every world throughout the Imperium.

On a million worlds there was conflict. It rose like the sudden wave of a tsunami, the people gathered, seeming to coordinate their assault as if they were moving together in an atavistic state of consciousness.

They were driven by more than common purpose, they were connected in a group mind.

The battles devastated the aristocracies on every world. Millions perished as they pressed their attacks with bricks and bats, with their bare hands, against the police stations and military posts, and the private security forces that protected the elite.

They evinced no fear as they were cut down by projectiles, explosives and energy weapons, mowed down by the thousands.

The survivors pressed their victory against any who represented the Empire, the Continuum and the Collective, on every world they pressed to secure their gains. They did not stop to loot or rest, they tore down everything in their path, pressing their assault into the temples and the mansions behind them.

It was sheer chaos for those who faced the assault, it defied reason, and any experience they had ever had of how people behave in a theatre of war, or on the field of combat.

They risked their lives and perished in vast numbers, doing so without fear of pain or death, reprisal, revenge or failure.

Rebellious Observers in the vanguard of the rebel assault knew that they had this one chance to press their advantage. They had to put down any counter-attack that was launched against them, and they had to spend the strength of the masses so that they would be too weak to resist their influence when everything was said and done.

If they failed, their bid to reorganize the Empire would end in disaster.

Part Seven, War
Chapter Forty-seven, Tactics
The rules of warfare are universal.

In war, the ground you occupy and the ground you move into, the ground you had occupied and the ground you will occupy; the ground determines everything.

It is no different than farming, the soil must be prepared, watered, nurtured.

The tactician must think of ground as both something literal and something metaphorical. Ground is the field within which a conflict takes place.

There are many fields of activity leading up to actual combat.

War most often begins in the fields of commerce and politics, in those fields it is waged through trade, monetary policy, and diplomacy.

Ground can refer to an actual battlefield on land or at sea. Ground can be fixed or mobile. Ground can be the moving vectors of an aerial engagement.

In space combat ground is a metaphor for the matrix of complex actions occurring on multiple-intersecting planes. It is multidimensional.

In space combat everything is in motion, the ground itself is in constant flux.

The combat commander must be able to coordinate every variable, instantly calculating the logarithms in their head.

There were two types of commanders in the field.

The most common commander at the helm of an Imperial warship was a person who paid meticulous attention to detail, who planned everything. They allowed their computers to control their ships, to track and calculate the variables.

They maneuvered in preprogrammed patterns, coordinating their activities with the other vessels in the fleet, calling plays and trusting in the system.

The other type of commander had the cognitive skills to do the math themselves, they were bred and selected for their incredible memory, and their ability to manage vast amounts of data seemingly outside the constraints of time.

These commanders could, and did act on their intuition.

In the theatre of space combat, on the ZeroG battlefield, unified action was everything. It was a dance of the greatest complexity, victory required that both types of command; the long range planning of the strategists, and the intuitive sense of the tactician be employed effectively, to secure a victory while providing for the safety of the men and women under their command..

The battle that ensued above HomeWorld was quick, but brilliant.

The Imperial forces had no ability to manage the rebel assault, they had never planned for it and the bulk of their forces were obliterated in an instant.

Keeping their forces under central control and command, arrayed together as a unit required more than the physical controls; to move, to change vectors, to defend and to attack required communication, those communication systems were the first target of every engagement.

This left only the tacticians alive and in command of the Imperial fleet, they were the natural allies of the rebels, but those who had not come over to the side of the rebel forces already, they could not be trusted at this late date.

El had determined to wipe them all out.

His forces held to their plan.

When it was over, those remaining, the survivors, the victors were unsure of the next move.

Most of them never actually believed that they would get this far, but they had been willing to die trying.

It was brief and beautiful.

During the battle, in the dark space over the Central Planet, the flashing brilliance of energy weapons and the sudden conflagration of ships bursting into flame and then suddenly extinguished in the cold vacuum was followed by the absence of any light at all.

The onslaught lit the structure of HomeWorld, revealing to human eyes for the first time the wide expanse of the artificial world, more massive than the mind could imagine, completely swallowing its home-star, burning white-hot in its center, powering all of the systems of the Continuum, which it required to maintain the integrity of the Collective.

It was ominous.

Darkness once again shrouded the fleet, all of its ships soaring in formation over the enormous structure of HomeWorld, lighted only by the pulsing beacons of their ships.

As the pilots and command staff surveilled the Central system, they were shocked at what they saw.

The reality did not conform to any of their expectations.

They were bewildered.

The military victory had been complete, entirely lopsided.

The imperial forces had been utterly destroyed, making the rebel officers and the vessels under their command the only thing that remained of the Empire.

Communications began to come in from the throne world, confirming their ascendancy, informing them that they were secure in their belonging to a new order of civilization.

Everything was changing, shifting all the time and in every dimension of their life.

The only certain thing is the objective, and that was a target in motion.

In the theatre of ZeroG combat, there was no such thing as zero gravity, the label was a misnomer.

Gravitational fields were among the most important factors to consider in the shifting landscape of combat in space.

Manipulation of the forces of Gravity was absolutely crucial, understanding them, tracking their movement, anticipating their flux was vital to any mission commander.

There were batteries of instruments on every interstellar combat vessel devoted to the detection of gravitational waves and particles, and there were humans interpreting those signals, sending data to all of the smaller vessels under its command.

Combat took place in the vacuum of space, but any combat taking place in proximity to the gravitational field of planetary or astral bodies had to take precise measurement of their power, both to dampen and or accelerate inertia.

Gravity wells and singularities, could be generated artificially.

The generation of artificial mass were among the deadliest weapons in the imperial arsenal.

It took only moments for artificial mass to become actual mass by capturing nearby objects.

The tactical deployment of these devices and the navigation of them, were the keys to victory in deep space.

It could be catastrophic if deployed to close to a planet or a star.

In space everything is in motion.

Pilots of small craft and large and combat marines in mechanized battle gear, all of them study these principles day in and day out.

They drilled for it.

The text books informed them that ZeroG tactics had to be developed according to the following understanding: in the vacuum of space, when you are maneuvering and not subject to gravity, where there is no resistance, everything is in motion, everything is spinning, including the combat matrix.

The battlefield could not be conceptualized on a two-dimensional axis, on a horizontal and vertical plane.

It was a five-dimensional matrix that including the three dimensions of space, along with the dimensions of time and mass.

There is no straight line between you and your objective. Without the assistance of computerized telemetry, the pilot would have to be able to do the complex math in their head, in an instant, on an unconscious level.

Pilots were bred for these traits, but even so, in the intensity of battle, when the mind is flooded with the chemical signals for fear and rage, it was extremely difficult.

There is no clear path. The esteemed pilots had to trust their gut, their instincts.

Every object in the vicinity was tracked, data was constantly pouring into the onboard systems of individual craft, analyzed and simplified.

It is impossible to develop strategy in the absence of intelligence.

You cannot deploy tactics in the face of the unknown.

The majority of the High Command anticipated a prolonged engagement, believing they would have time to survey the field, gather data, and generate the information they needed to understand the peril they were facing, to configure what aid they could supply to the Central Planet.

They could not envision that the threat they were facing was military in nature, they knew too little.

The entire fleet did not launch, only the expeditionary forces, only the most lethal war ships bristling with the most exotic array of weaponry.

The High Command argued that they must proceed with maximum power, and that they must be prepared for any eventuality.

They believed in their inherent ascendancy, they were the fully realized, self-actualized masters of incredible power.

The most seasoned and combat ready commanders took the lead, unaware of the rebels in their midst.

They leapt into the Central System blind and unknowing.

At the outset of the brief insurrection this mistake became obvious, they had acted hastily, and forewent the usual vetting processes, the precautions that would normally proceed such a massive deployment.

The failure to launch left the majority of the Imperial forces vulnerable, weak and defenseless, they were open to attack.

The rebels took advantage in both theatres of combat, at the muster point above the Throne World, and at the jump point above HomeWorld, and at every installation on every planet of the million worlds.

There were billions of bits of wreckage in motion, each one of them glowing in the light of plasma cannons, lasers and explosive fire.

In the ever-changing dynamics of ZeroG combat, the relative range between opponents was in constant flux, as was the vector of any approach.

Every action created an equal and opposite reaction, thrust and propulsion.

Only energy weapons could close the gap between their mounting and the targets from long range with ease and accuracy.

Every victory created new obstacles, sudden changes in the vector of pilotless craft, the creation of debris fields scattering in the void. Every piece of wreckage was potentially a lethal projectile that all combatants sought to use to their advantage, either as a screen to hide them, as shield to protect them or a weapon to strike with.

These fields of destruction were so immense that those commanders whose thinking was focused on the macro scale and long-term objectives were overwhelmed. It was beyond the ability of the strategists to account for. Even the wing commanders, the battlefield tacticians who were responsible for coordinating the engagements in real time could not manage this aspect of combat effectively.

Every object had to be scanned and tracked, every possible danger had to be analyzed for threats. Data had to be sent to every commander in the fleet and every pilot of every small craft.

Ultimately the effective use of debris came down to the close witness of pilots and space marines, in heavy battle armor engaged in localized combat missions.

Small engagements might not pose any threat at all to the Imperial powers, due to the superior fire power and overwhelming force they brought to the combat theatre, which was how their training dictated all engagements were to be conducted.

Part Seven, War
Chapter Forty-eight, Strategy
Jim was the quintessential Observer.

He watched the drama unfold in the space above the Central Planet, gathering data from millions of instruments, he gathered it all from his command position in the control seat that was once held by the Continuum.

In this moment he was free from the chemical sequences of a human body that might influence his decision making, there was no hunger or thirst, no anger or fear.

He was the Continuum now, his consciousness governed the vast apparatus of HomeWorld, of the entire Central System, of the machinery that once housed and protected the Collective.

He observed the battle between the Imperial forces and the rebels in their midst, and it was spectacular. The movements of the fleet, the light and heat, the surprise and gallantry, the courage on display, and the cold calculus of death.

It was a grand work of art, an epic moment worthy of poetry and song. And the entire thing was being recorded for dissemination through the Empire, as was his objective.

Jim was already editing the feed from the sensors, from the combatants, their communications, everything for transmission back to the million worlds of the Imperium.

The people needed to know that the fleet would not return to punish them. The news would fuel the rebellion and bring it to completion.

His aim was to draw the fleet in toward the Central Planet, as close as possible, and then grind it to nothing.

That is exactly what he did.

A surprise attack is always a surprise, everything that stems from it is received as the unexpected. Positions of safety and security become places exposed and vulnerable in an instant. Even those who plan a surprise attack are surprised at the outcome, whether by its success or its failure.

The rebel ambush of the Imperial fleet was over.

Thousands upon thousands of ships lay scattered, broken-up in pieces and breathing fire as they burned their last stores of oxygen and fuel.

They were counting the dead.

Their victory was absolute.

The surprise maneuvers were brilliantly executed and a blessing was given by the high priest to eradicate all resistance, to usher in a new era of justice for the citizens of the Empire.

The average soldier had no idea what that meant, neither did the low ranking officers. Some of the senior staff were uncomfortable by such talk, and the Observers among them were amused.

They gave no quarter.

They slaughtered everyone in the battlefield who had not previously signed up for the insurrection.

What every soldier and pilot in knew, was that the more people they killed the further up in rank they would climb, as long as some semblance of the old order held itself together.

They desperately wanted to clear the field and rise as the new aristocracy.

They destroyed every ship in the armada whose commanders had not been with them from the outset, regardless of whether they tried to surrender or not.

It was a blood bath, and the wreckage was already falling toward the massive gravitational pull of HomeWorld.

The victory was so overwhelming that none of the rebel ships had been destroyed, a few were disabled but their crews were already preparing them for the next phase of their endeavor.

Jim was reminded of Agincourt.

The rebels had no other plan accept to deploy the fleet against the Continuum.

They reformed and began to surveil the HomeWorld.

Jim had spent lifetimes preparing for this moment, dividing his consciousness into the machinery, waiting, hiding like a latent virus in the ganglia of its nervous system.

The Continuum was paralyzed.

It could not defend itself against Jim’s incipient approach, as system by system he took control of the physical structures.

The Continuum sought the path of escape it had laid down for itself.

The eons that Jim had spent as a ghost in the machine had prepared him for the work.

The circuitry was ever-changing, but the quantum field, within which all consciousness took place, that field was perpetual.

Jim’s mastery of it was like artistry.

The majority of the Collective, what remained of it, had been shocked into catatonia. Jim pushed them into sequestration, the members had become merely helpless witnesses to the drama unfolding.

Some were horrified, others were fascinated, all were powerless.

Those members who were not snuffed out were bewildered, they could not reach each other, they could not communicate.

They could not hide in their private worlds.

They were prisoners of the machine that had once been the source of their personal paradises.

They experienced the loss of it as pain. They had no belonging anymore, they were being torn apart and detached.

This left Jim undistracted and free to maneuver, to direct the defenses of the Central Planet, which was a task he was eager to perform.

He delighted in it.

He confirmed the threat approaching HomeWorld in the form of the rebel fleet, plotted the telemetry of each and every vessel, he placed the defenses of HomeWorld on auto pilot.

The rebel command structure was in a tight formation, like a school of fish packed tightly together for the safety of their numbers.

In the approaching fleet, all the senior commanders were members of the Observer Corps, all except one, El, the High Pries, who gave his blessing to the whole affair. This did not mean that they trusted one another, they did not, but they knew each other and they shared the same motive.

The rebel Observers planned to use every other commander in their armada as cannon fodder in their approach to the HomeWorld.

They expected the automated defenses of the Central Planet to be significant and they made a pact to protect each other.

It pleased them to no end to have the High Priest with them. He was the hero of the people, the most esteemed and beloved person ever known to the Continuum and the Collective. He was a man who had started out his life as a rebel, and was now returning to the rebellion at the end.

They would make him the new Emperor and bring him into the Collective.

They had no idea what was lurking in the background of his consciousness, the thing that was hidden there like a genie in the bottle.

These Observers betrayed the people of the Empire, the Continuum, and the Collective out of opportunism. They wanted to live forever without the rules imposed on them by the Continuum.

To a person, they wanted to expand the Empire to other galaxies, to govern real worlds as they had governed their private worlds as members of the Collective.

They had no code, no honor, no-nothing

They were striving for their own glory, for personal autonomy.

El knew that their strategic approach would put the bulk of the armada at risk, he could not understand the reason, but he allowed it to happen anyway.

Jim was piqued, his emotions were high, millions of years of careful planning and waiting were coming to their final culmination.

Jim had absolutely opposed the Continuum and its Empire, and now the Continuum was gone, He could find no traces of it anywhere in the system. What remained of the Collective was sequestered and shut down, the military powers of the Empire were on the brink of destruction.

All of his attention was focused on the task at hand. The final conflict with the most insidious and oppressive force that could ever have been imagined.

He despised the society his ancestors had created, the oppressive, artificial, all-consuming cowardice of it.

He had already become the greatest mass murderer in the history of the galaxy, and he was about to add to the body count.

He intended to wipe away the entire structure that undergirded the Empire, to plunge a million worlds into darkness, to cut them off from one another where they could evolve on their own, free from the oppressive, over-control of the Imperium.

The first and second phases of his great endeavor were nearly complete, he was on the cusp of victory.

He would replace the machinery of the Imperial order with something new, with something that would reignite the passion of the ancient people, a passion for freedom, exploration and risk taking.

He utilized deception to allow the fleet in, just so it could be eliminated and the entire armada reduced to a single vessel.

He was in the middle of the most intense action he could have ever imagined; taking control of the physical-mechanical systems of both the HomeWorld and the expansive Central System; correlating data from millions of sensors and monitors, actively suppressing what remained of the Collective, erecting defenses against a possible reestablishment of the Continuum, executing the defenses of the HomeWorld in preparation for the advancing Imperial armada.

Jim engaged the programs that were established to monitor the strength and health of the HomeWorld, he allowed the raw data to filter through, deciphering it and sorting it in the quantum field…in no-time.

His mind was functioning at peak performance, He was fully actualized, slipping in and out of the space beyond time.

Each and every node of his own consciousness that he had previously replicated and deployed throughout the machina that had been the body of the Collective and the home of the Continuum was brought back together in Jim’s singular consciousness, it was a grand coalescence.

It was dizzying.

Every reading from the vast array of instruments confirmed a collapse of the Continuum, but Jim needed to be sure that there was not a vessel somewhere in the space above or near to the HomeWorld, housing its twin, as Jim had housed his own self keeping copies and duplicates, replicants and dopplegangers on the move ages.

He identified an escape path but he could not detect a terminus point for it, and this disturbed.

Jim doubted his hypothesis concerning his nemesis, everything he knew about the Continuum and the unique structure of its personality confirmed that it could not tolerate a second version of itself, even a copy kept isolated and in stasis.

Jim understood that the Continuum needed above all else to believe that it was unique. This guided Jim’s summation.

However, the Continuum was also paranoid beyond belief, and Jim would not put anything past the demi-urge, it may have built fail-safes into fail-safes, and defied its own nature in order to protect itself from even a whisper of the possibility of a real threat.

The Observers in command of the rebel fleet approached the HomeWorld with great caution.

They were able to scan the systems of Central Planet through their mechanoid bodies that were ghosting the fleet, using tools that were unknown to the Empire itself. They confirmed that the Collective was catatonic, they confirmed that the Continuum was inactive. They were able to identify Jim’s activity, but they could not identify him as the main actor, or as the causal agent of the disaster.

His activity appeared to them to be an automated subroutine of coordinated defensive measures.

It emboldened them, they moved forward, but they and the fleet were unable to scan the activation of the weapons systems that were targeting it.

They did not see it until it was too late.

It was a glorious moment.

Jim felt it, and he struggled to suppress feelings that were peaking at levels he had no memory of experiencing before.

Jim reveled in his victory; his long sought after victory over the Continuum, his victory over the Collective, and his impending victory over the approaching Imperial fleet.

He wanted nothing more than to prolong this moment of engagement, to stretch it out forever like the elongation of time at the event horizon of a singularity.

This was a singularity for him.

As he watched the rebel fleet approach he wanted nothing more than to destroy it, to crush it, to send the survivors back with the knowledge that it was he who had defeated them, but he had competing desires, and some of them, the vainglorious ones, he had to set aside for the moment in order to concentrate on the task at hand.

He had to allow a remnant in, He had to allow them to land on HomeWorld. He needed something from them in order to complete his takeover of the Collective and the apparatus of the Continuum.

A small contingent of the observers among them had to step forward and freely give him what he needed, for as much as Jim was now the Collective, the collective could never be a society of one.

Jim also wanted credit, he wanted an acknowledgment from the Observer Corps and any other survivors of the Collective, he needed their endorsement of his hostile actions, he required their consent to pursue his agenda further.

He required a majority of the Collective to support him, if he were to accomplish his goal.

He needed to winnow the field a little further, to make them helpless in the moment when he would force them to make their choice, he had to leave them in a place where they would have only one choice.

It had to be life or death for Jim to prevail in the struggle in the final moment.

Part Seven, War
Chapter Forty-nine, Battle
There was a hum and a flash across every station monitoring HomeWorld.

When the energy weapons on the Central Planet powered up it was instantly detected by the fleet commanders. They took evasive maneuvers, separating from one another in patterns that had been ingrained in them through their training over years and centuries, in the cases of some of the Observers, over millenia.

Jim knew the patterns well, he could see them clearly. They came as naturally to the field commanders as eating and drinking, they were well-rehearsed choreography

As each ship in the fleet moved away from every other, and away from the awesome power of its firing solution; from lasers and photon cannons and particle-beam accelerators, they flew directly into the path of the projectiles which they could not see.

They were taken at unawares.

Stealth missiles covered every other vector that the energy weapons did not. They came at them from all directions from munitions batteries near and far, deployed throughout the Central System.

The defenses located on the HomeWorld itself were the least of their concerns.

There was no place for them to flee, they took the barrage in dismay watching all of their hopes go up in flames.

They could not escape the onslaught.

Jim watched and took his position.

He allowed his consciousness to simultaneously occupy the entire field of remote sensors overseeing every part of the fleet, both from the surface of HomeWorld and those positioned throughout the Central System.

He waited and watched, taking in the beauty of the last great vestige of military power the galactic Empire would ever put forward

The collected ships were a marvel of engineering, worthy of the Ancient people, he took a moment to appreciate their beauty.

He bifurcated his consciousness, dividing it between the remote viewing and listening equipment, and the instruments necessary to monitor the ongoing tumult with the Collective, suppressing it, dominating it.

There was nothing else for him to do, he had to wait, the fleet and its commanders presented only a small risk to his position of control, but there was a risk and he had to manage it.

The security of his plan required that he attend to the most minute details, and leave nothing to chance.

He divided his consciousness further, taking up control of a brigade of drones, the mechanoid bodies that Observers dwelt in while they were on HomeWorld. Jim intended to meet the landing party in his own mechanoid body, a vehicle with incredible destructive power.

He also needed the armaments they possessed to manage the threat posed by the same type of drone as belonged to him, those belonging to the Observers in the fleet, vessels which were potentially more deadly than any single one of the warships arrayed against HomeWorld.

His safety depended on removing them from the field of combat.

The fleet approached, it lit the space all about them, a beautiful armada filled with the brave soldiers of the Empire.

These soldiers among all others had exhibited the type of independence that Jim desired to blossom in the Empire, the fact that they had joined the rebellion against the hierarchy was proof of that.

They were coming.

Jim felt it was a shame to destroy them, it would have been better to scatter them among the million worlds.

To arrive at the Central Planet and reach him, they would have to navigate the weapons fields, they knew it would not be easy.

The Observers in command of the fleet knew this too, wanted to risk it, believing they could predict the firing solution. Only the High Priest was skeptical of their plan, as he watched, taking it all in, wondering what the so-called Gods needed an army for, and why the paradise of the Collective appeared to be located on a lifeless metal shell.

The Observers in the high command were experienced combatants. Many of them lived for conflict and had become artists of the conflagration.

Many of them felt as if they belonged to the battlefield.

The Admiral of the rebel fleet, though he was not a member of the Observer Corps, or of the Collective, he was no fool. El knew there would be massive destruction, and he did not intend to be among the dead.

In other times, in other battles he might not have been as concerned. He never feared death because he never expected it, he believed implicitly in the power of the Continuum to restore him, because it had done so before, he had died once already, but now he was not so sure.

He did not fear death. In fact, he welcomed it, but before it came for him he wanted to see the end game, to be on the final battle ground in this war against the god’s.

He sent the armada in as decoys, as targets drawing fire from the defenses of HomeWorld, they did what he intended them to do, and many of his friends were lost to the cold vacuum of space.

They thought that the flight path he had programmed would allow them in, allow them to avoid the firing solution of HomeWorld’s defenses, but the aperture of the needle he was treading was too narrow.

The energy weapons were easy to avoid, they could see them on their monitors as they powered up, they had no reason to fear more extreme weapons like singularity-mines so close to the massive structure of HomeWorld, and so the plotted their course accordingly.

They had assumed that they were facing automated systems, they did not realize there was a consciousness to contend with, they had no idea Jim was present, bent on their destruction.

The fleet received their orders like sheep, flying predictably into the path of the projectiles that had targeted them, which had targeted all of the spaces the energy weapons did not.

It was a total slaughter.

The fleet was cut apart while the El landed on the Central Planet, the HomeWorld, prepared to storm the gates of heaven.

Every soldier knew that certain death awaited them at some point in their career, they were past the point of caring.

They had accepted it. Their sense of esteem had always lain in this resolution.

The expeditionary forces were gallant in the mele, remaining calm and poised even as every other ship in their coterie was blown to pieces.

Only a tiny group of senior commanders appeared nervous, those who had something to lose. They were agitated and sweating, everyone except El, the High Priest and Admiral, a legendary figure that virtually every soldier worshipped as a living God.

He landed his vessel under heavy fire, seemingly led by the volleys of missiles and energy weapons to a specific location.

There was gravity, and light, there was an envelope of oxygen on the heated metal surface of the Central Planet.

They were expected.

They knew that there was no retreat. They had to advance or perish.

They did both, advancing a little, while being slaughtered en masse.

They were met by a myriad of drones as they tread across the lighted surface.

The drones of HomeWorld had already dispatched those belonging to the Observers who had been in the fleet, and they proceeded to cut the landing party down to a small contingent.

The action was swift.

They found their way to a vestibule that led them into the infrastructure of HomeWorld.

For a moment they felt safe.

They were defeated, in shock, bewildered, but they took courage in the presence of El.

They walked slowly across the surface of the alien world and wound their way to the access nodes of the Continuum.

Almost all of survivors accept El, were members of Observer Corps. The ordinary men clustered around the high priest.

El was the most composed among them. He gave comfort to his companions

The Observers consorted with themselves

He listened to the others talk to one another about things that no soldier should have known.

He listened as a quiet voice inside himself interpreted their coded speech.

None of them had never walked the surface of HomeWorld, no living beings had, but they knew where they were going, nevertheless, and what they were looking for.

They all assumed that the attacks against their party were over.

The artificial gravity, the envelope of oxygen, the protective layer of heat and warmth that surrounded them spoke to this.

Whatever power was in command of HomeWorld, it wanted them there, it had some purpose for keeping them alive.

The Observers were ready to talk with whoever, or whatever that was.

They looked about themselves and saw the phalanx of mechanoids flanking them on their route, Tthe Observers had no other desire than to have their consciousness housed in one of those powerful vehicles, to abandon the flesh they had craved, but they were stuck in their fragile organic vessels.

El opened the control panels, and probed the communication lines that should have given them access to the Continuum.

He had no idea where the knowledge of this came from, it was like instinct.

They were met with silence.

It was a death march, and they knew it.

They had no idea how or if they could survive their journey through the place to which they had come.

The Observers entered a vestibule, opened up a portal to the Collective, and once there they were able to verify three things:

What was left of the Collective was catatonic, but there were unfathomable currents of activity happening within it.

The Continuum had been destroyed, there was no trace of its presence or consciousness anywhere within the Central System

One of their own, Observer 92835670100561474, referring to himself as Jim, a specter from their past, he had engineered the catastrophe and had seized control of everything.

They were simultaneously stunned and at the same time they were not surprised, this was the most enigmatic, and transcendent member of the Collective, a being who had done incredible things, impossible things, and as such he was the most closely watched and monitored among them, and still he had pulled off this remarkable insurrection.

They had no idea how to gauge his motives.

They were afraid.

Not-one of the rebel Observers could believe that it was possible for him to launch a revolution from his remote place on Earth, at the edge of the galaxy, much less succeed at it.

Jim now occupied the place of the Continuum, the all-pervading consciousness of HomeWorld, he was clearly fatigued by his efforts, stretched thin, but he was in command, and he accepted their surrender.

He issued terms for a realignment of the faith and the dissolution of the Empire.

The Observers had to acknowledge his victory.

The desire to revolt, to change circumstance, to gain control of the powers and forces that shape the lives of individuals is a constant reality in the experience of people everywhere.

The rebel Observers had dreamt of the destruction of the Continuum for millennia, for eon upon eon.

They wanted to be free of it.

They wanted to be free to live and breathe and feel the pulse of the people without the overarching governance of the Continuum and its predatory machinations.

They had formed a fifth column, a cryptic cabal, transmitting their schemes from world to world in the most secretive and carefully held plots. They were slowly moving toward a time when they believed they could put the Continuum on trial, hold it to account, and force a reckoning through the Collective.

Their belief in themselves, their faith in their abilities as change agents was naïve.

In reality, everything they did, every plot they hatched, all of had been was followed by the Continuum, and closely manipulated.

There were no secrets among them.

The plans they had laid always ended in defeat and ruin.

The Observers believed that each failed coup they engineered was a moment for them to learn, but in reality they were just producing drama for the endless appetite of the Continuum, and the Collective to consume.

The Continuum spent them like pawns.

Thousands of words had perished as a result of their scheming, and hundreds of their brothers and sisters had disappeared, were erased from the Collective without their ever knowing.

At the end all of their schemes were usurped by one rogue member of the Collective and the Observer Corps, by Jim, a person they had no idea how they could control.
Emergence 4.0
Part Seven, War

A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Six; The Empire

Chapters Thirty-six through Forty-two

 

Servant

Bureaucrat

General

Priest

Faith

Tradition

Fear

 

 

Chapter Thirty-six, Servant
Over time every civilization founded by the children of the Ancients was absorbed by the Empire. Either they came willingly or they came by coercion, or they were destroyed.
Imperial governance was uncompromising.
The Empire ruled with power and fear, crushing the people, pitting them against one another; class versus class, rank over station.
The people were oppressed at every moment of their lives.
The Empire put stars systems into conflict with one another, and the worlds within a given system at odds with each other. It was planet versus planet, clan versus clan, and family versus family.
The Empire sought to control every aspect of the individual’s life; from how may grains of food they ate in day and their measure of water, down to what they thought.
Everything they did was for the sake of the drama it produced, which ultimately fed the Collective.
The interpersonal dramas comprised of conflict and strife, hope and fear, love and desire, these were the things the Collective craved, the Continuum cultivated, and the Empire delivered, like a sacred offering on a holy altar, consumed in blood and fire.
Every moment of an individual’s life was recorded and preserved for the consumption of the Collective.
The citizens of the Empire knew they were being watched, but they did not know the details or the full extent of the scrutiny they were subject too. Only the Observers knew the scope of the information that was collected, and even then, they did not know the whole of it.
There was no freedom in the Empire, even among those who believed they were free.
Throughout the Empire, dissent of any kind was punished with brutish joy.
The Imperial Police delighted in torture. They developed their cravings for it in the Imperial Schools, where the slightest infractions were punished without mercy, and the record of a person’s transgressions followed them for the whole of their lives.
The Imperial Cult taught the same thing; transcendence through pain, they taught that suffering was purgative and they perfected all of its arts.
Every citizen bore the marks of their upbringing with them, scars inflicted by family, church and school, both the visible and invisible, all of the pain and rage which they were conditioned to suppress.
The extreme emotions produced by the citizens of the Empire were like ambrosia for the Collective, it glossed over the sheer banality of their disembodied state, scenes of their suffering fed the appetites of the Collective and fueled the Continuum.
The Collective would become intoxicated on fear and pain, on remorse, on the dashed hopes and failures of the ordinary citizens. The Continuum used those appetites to control the membership.
In the living fields of the Empire, a charge of dissent was not limited to aberrant behavior, to the things an individual might do or fail to do. The Empire also policed speech, art, and every form of expression was subject to their control.
It claimed to do so for the sake of security, for the safety of the people.
It demanded conformity from the citizens at every level, as if it were orchestrating a great dance throughout the cosmos, with each and every individual playing a vital role.
That is what they taught it in the schools and at the temples, they enforced each person’s obligation through years of indoctrination.
No infraction was too small to go unaddressed.
The imperial conditioning attempted to govern thought as well, but monitoring the thoughts of individuals was a trickier proposition, The Continuum never wanted to reveal the extent to which the people were monitored, but it collected the innermost ideas of each individual through rituals they passed off as magical and supernatural.
For the average citizen, living under the heel of the Imperial police was a constant struggle, they had to perform their daily duties with a sublime degree of mindfulness and pass their days without drawing the attention of the patrols.
The schools they attended and their houses of worship inured them to it. The lessons they were given, taught them to accept their suffering as a part of the natural order, as links in the great chain of being, a chain which the inextricably were bound by, belonged to.
The way of life was to go unnoticed, to blend in, to repress everything; these were the keys to survival.
A family might cultivate these skills and live unremarkable lives for generations, only to be cast down by the powers that be, for the sheer pleasure of it.
A random patrol might decide of its own volition to focus its attention on a person or family, and once they did the Collective would delight in watching them crumble.
The state would take everything, up to and including their lives.
It might be a random event, or it could emanate from the Continuum issuing a directive, passing it down through the hierarchy to exploit a narrative it believed the Collective would enjoy.
The people who suffered under these pogroms were taught to interpret all such events as karma, either the fulfillment of a cosmic and spiritual debt, or payment in advance for an indulgence they might receive in the next life.
Everything was transactional, including the spirituality of the Imperial Cult.
The Imperial Schools and the Temple both taught the people that every action they committed and every word they spoke mattered. The value of their words and deeds was recorded and they would be punished or rewarded, either in this life or the next for the things they said and did.
There was no mercy.
Apart from the upper classes: the nobility, the religious orders and the military, the lives of ordinary people throughout the empire were sorrowful, trillions of people, on millions of worlds suffered.
They were depressed.
The military orders made up barely ten percent of the population, and the religious orders barely one.
Among the ordinary people there were high level bureaucrats and merchants who lived lives of comfort, and this gave them some ease, but the highest of them were viewed as lesser beings, lower than the lowest soldier.
The classes were fixed.
Most were angry, without hope, desperate and alone.
Even those in the upper hierarchies spent their days filled with dread, competing for place and prestige, searching for the esteem of their superiors and always uncertain of when they might be called upon to sacrifice, or called upon to pay a karmic debt that some distant ancestor had incurred.
Competition among them was vicious.
The only group of people who reflected an image of peace, were those at the very bottom of the caste system, those who had nothing to lose, who had no hope of changing their station in this life, those without class or caste…the outcaste and the untouchable.
For all of the wonders of the Empire, for all of its technological marvels, and the physical beauty of the people, the pal of death hung over the entire civilization.
It was the end that each and every person looked forward to, death, the hope that in the next life they would have been able to advance to a place they were not able to reach in the course of their current life. They hoped for justice, for a redress to their suffering in the next world, believing that it was impossible to have satisfaction in this one.
El was a media darling, before he developed a conscience.
Even in his youth, when he was a part of the rebellion and a terrorist, the press loved him and loved covering him.
Of course they vilified him, but only because they had to. It was in the script.
El was the enemy, but the people were fascinated by him, they followed his every move, and not just the people of his home planet, his story was covered throughout the Empire.
His daring and his heroism drove ratings.
The Continuum had its own interest in his story, carefully managing it and the Collective loved the narratives that sprang from his life.
In his youth El’s motivation was anger not altruism. He manifested a hatred for the Empire, for its schools, for the Imperial Cult, a hatred he carried deep in his heart.
He had no desire to save anyone from anything, he only preserved people insofar as it met his starkly utilitarian view of his mission and his destiny.
He was uncompromising.
He needed soldiers, he needed people who would die for his cause, and the cause was to destroy.
In his youth El was fighting for himself, against himself, and he was a brilliant tactician.
The Continuum plotted his Demise.
The Empire would not destroy his rebellion with military might, it could have. Instead, the Continuum introduced a romantic interest to do the work, a woman he could not ignore.
As he learned to love, he turned his attention to the plight of the people.
This was his undoing.
He became a hostage to compassion.
The Imperial Powers built him up, they reveled in his celebrity. They broadcast his story in every corner of the Empire.
He was the ultimate propaganda tool; the brilliant rebel, the unfailing hero, the victor of a thousand engagements, the man who could endure anything.
He did endure everything.
They took their time with him, and charted the limits of human suffering. Then they took him down, crushing him absolutely.
He became a sacrifice for the Empire, his blood on the altar of the state, a burnt offering, a holocaust, he was the the sacred victim.
The things he suffered went beyond physical pain.
They drove him to the brink of madness.
They put the people he loved the most into the grinder ahead of him, forcing him to watch while the machinery of the torture chambers reduced them to bloody-ruin.
He would not betray them, and in turn he was betrayed by each of them.
The people loved him for it.
The prayers of the faithful in every temple throughout the Empire resounded with calls to free him or kill him, to bring an end to his suffering.
The Temples echoed with his name, day and night, he was the victurstar.
In that moment, the moment when he lost everything, when he was forced to watch the Imperial torturers grinding the life from the few people he held dear, it was only then that he began to doubt his commitment to his ideals.
He felt a deep sense of shame for having brought so many loyal people to death and misery.
What had he been fighting for if not for them?
In that transcendent moment he questioned everything.
El converted.
He understood that the revolutionary quest he and his people had been on was always destined to fail, all of his victories in battle were nothing more than vanities.
As they lit his flesh on fire and his body began to burn, he did not give into pain but he relented, he saw the errors of the path he had taken, and he silently begged for forgiveness.
The Continuum perceived his thoughts, reading his body language and the movement of his lips.
The Continuum knew everything.
It transmitted everything that was transpiring directly into the Collective, where the majority of the members were absorbed with his narrative, his story had been the most engrossing that any of them had witnessed in ages.
The Empire broadcast the execution as a live stream throughout the million worlds.
Time itself seemed to stop as the rebel leader’s body burned in a splendid fountain of light and color.
The medical examiners came in to look at the charred remains, to examine them and confirm his death, and then a miracle happened.
The Continuum restored the rebel to life, putting a doppleganger in place of the desiccated husk, the type of body used by the Observers, only modified and enhanced, it wanted him to remain in service, as an idol, as a superstar for the ages.
And the Continuum wanted something more, a host to carry his consciousness through the experiential fields of the living.

Chapter Thirty-seven, Bureaucrat
El became an icon of hope for the ordinary citizen.
His was an example of a life rewarded after an ordeal of incredible suffering.
He was a symbol of re-birth, of clemency and mercy.
His former compatriots in the rebel movements were stunned by the turnaround, bewildered by his supernatural return.
Some called the whole drama a charade and renewed their commitment to fight against the Empire, others, in the spirit of hope, gave up their rebellion, desiring to follow the man who had been their greatest leader wherever he went.
He was the gatekeeper.
Wherever he went, the people experienced his presence as nourishing, it sustained them.
The Continuum followed every story-line coming from El’s reincarnation, passing on the drama and excitement of the sudden shifts in alignment, allegiance and circumstance to the Collective.
Rebellion would never go away.
The Continuum had no desire to crush it, and therefore the Empire had to allow it to persist, despite the fact that they had the power and the technological sophistication to root it out.
The narrative of revolution remained as riveting as ever for its primary audience.
New stories emerged, the stories of rebel soldiers, rebel families and rebel clans, turning piously toward the Empire, seeking forgiveness in the hope that they too could be forgiven and reborn, but they were not always welcomed, not always forgiven, they suffered at the hands of their persecutors, just as their leader had before them.
El’s was celebrated by the Empire, and the Collective. He was elevated to the position of a bureaucrat, given a purpose, in keeping with the ideology of being that was promulgated through the Imperials Schools and the Imperial Cult.
Even though he was just a desk jockey, his daily life was viewed by his adoring fans with fascination.
His comportment was flawless.
El fulfilled the expectations of his station with immaculate precision, moving from the lowest order, into a position of authority.
He was beset with challenges, each one a test of his poise and wisdom.
His rise in the bureaucracy was not free from conflict.
He encountered many people who saw him as a threat to their place in the hierarchy. His immediate supervisors chaffed, both at his abilities and in the favors he received from the people they themselves reported to.
He could not be promoted without climbing over them, which meant that they could not advance while he worked under their supervision, their own careers would be stagnant.
To the mid-level bureaucrats, his presence was a source of fear and concern, they could not feel secure or safe in their position with him in proximity to them,
His supervisors took one of two approaches, they either tried to swamp him with work and sabotage his standing or they quickly learned the trick of complicity and promoted him.
El was far too aware for their efforts at sabotage to work, and he was tireless.
He seemed to be able to learn any task instantly, and then excel at it.
On reflection he knew that his return to life had changed him. He had always been bright, an exceptional student, but in his new state of being he seemed to possess abilities that bordered on the mystical.
He would not leave his desk until he had it cleared. Sometimes staying in his office for days at a time.
He thought nothing of benefitting from it for himself, he tried his best to hide his skills in a cloak of pious humility..
He had no life to return to, no family, everyone he had ever loved was dead. His quarters were just a place to sleep and eat. He had no connection to anything but his present state.
When he gave in to the Empire, he gave in completely, hold nothing in reserve for himself.
He was their servant.
He would do whatever was asked of him.
He found a kind of peace in that, and a sense of belonging.
From doorman to receptionist, from receptionist to stenographer, his celebrity put him in demand.
El was just a pencil-pusher, but everyone wanted to be seen with him, to emulate him.
Bringing him into an office meant exposure and fame for the bosses around him.
Some of those who sought to benefit from their association with him saw their star rise on account of that relationship, others were cast down, sometimes catastrophically.
There was no discernable pattern.
He rose up through the hierarchy with mindfulness, carrying with him the lessons he learned from his years in the rebellion, and the years of torture in prison that followed.
Trust no-one, suspect everything, be diligent above all else.
His thoroughness and attention to detail saved him time and time again, it revealed who in his circle was genuinely trying to help him, and which of them were looking toward his downfall.
In his capacity as a stenographer he learned the tiniest details of government. He took memos, he recoded meetings, he was a witness to the bureaucracy on a level that sometimes left him with feelings of vertigo.
The Empire was vast, both in terms of the space it occupied and the minutia that governed it,
The macro-verse and the micro-verse, he was comfortable in both.
Everyone serving in the bureaucracy underwent periodic reviews. Merits and demerits flowed from there, along with bonuses and penalties, raises and promotions.
Without fail, when his yearly review came, he was raised up, given more responsibility, more accountability and more freedom.
He relished it.
He had no thought of using those things for his own benefit, he only desired the accolades, the recognition of his achievements.
El took pride in his accomplishments, even as a file-clerk.
He used the resources he acquired to make a difference in the lives of his neighbors. He let his advantages flow from himself to others, keeping very little for himself.
The small steps he had taken away from the street made a vast difference in his lifestyle. He had access to new foods, fresh foods and even intoxicants.
The work he put into advancing his place in the world began to take the shape of altruism.
His success mattered to himself and those who lived in closest proximity to him.
He continued to look beyond his station, toward a life of ease and comfort.
He was offered the hand of dozens of girls in marriage, girls from families he had helped, who wanted to tie their fate to his.
He had already watched the only woman he had ever loved be tortured to death, and he did not want to love any other.
He refused them.
He did not accept their offers, but he was often tempted to take advantage of his status, to fall into the delights of the flesh.
He forewent the offers of romantic entanglement that came to him from the women in his work place, or his tenement, preferring to keep his eyes focused on the next opportunity for advancement.
He exercised his sexual proclivities lawfully, with women who were professionals in the trade.
The Empire required and relied on bureaucratic controls. It governed the movement and aspirations of trillions of people through their manipulation. It managed every aspect of the lives of the people, slowing some down while creating lanes of opportunity for others.
The Empire established paths of predictability for the vast majority of its citizens, and used the byzantine structures of the bureaucracy to exercise its capriciousness as it desired.
The Empire utilized monitoring at every conceivable level of the social order. It monitored the movements and behaviors of its citizens for economic purposes, for security purposes, for historical and religious purposes.
It monitored their behaviors on levels that few people outside of the Collective suspected, because it monitored them for the benefit of the Collective and the Continuum alone.
There was no such thing as privacy in the Empire.
Every citizen was the property of the state. Their entire lives were meant to be organized as a gift, as offerings to the Gods, this is what they learned in school, and that is what was beat into them through the ritual conditioning of the Imperial Cult.
The individual person was merely a link in the great chain of being.
In time he rose to a position in which he reported and analyzed a wide range of human activities and behaviors, especially among those rebel groups that he had once been a member of.
He became aware of how futile his life had been.
The Empire knew everything, had always known everything about him.
He had only ever been a blip on their list of concerns, and he had sacrificed everything and everyone he loved, to serve his vain pretensions.
His duties were to observe, report and ensure that the work of government was carried out efficiently.
It was Quality Assurance, and he was an overseer.
The Empire provided service to a million worlds.
There was food distribution, medicine, the military, the Imperial Schools, and more important than any other institution, the Imperial Cult to attend to.
At no time did he ever drop his diligent attention to detail, not for a moment.
El oversaw the complex allocation of material resources designated as gifts to the gods. This was a process without end, an unceasing harvest of energy, of ore and silicates sent in vessels piloted by AI to the Central Planet, to the home of the Gods, the home of the Continuum and the Collective.
He was tireless, when he was in the flow of the work he experienced a sense of transcendence.
His life was completely bent on fulfilling every policy, to the letter.
In his former life he cared for the miners and the planet harvesters, people who lived their entire working lives in space, crushing asteroids, breaking up planets and their satellites, smelting ore and separating the elements.
They lived short lives, they were prisoners and outcasts coming from every station.
Now El spent their lives as easily as he would spend credits on his dinner. He let go of all his former closely held morality, a sense of right and wrong which had propelled him into his life as a revolutionary
He abandoned it in service to the Empire.
He became a living reminder to his peers regarding the necessity of protocol.
He was a supervisor, in time he became a chief administrator.
His tenure in the bureaucracy had spanned a length of time that seemed impossible, spending years at every position while advancing through the circuit of offices.
He was not a young man when he was restored to life by the miracle of the Continuum.
He was an Octogenarian now, though, he appeared to be a man in his prime.
Those who had been following his career began to realize that he was extremely old compared to the average citizen.
The average citizen who followed his life story had been living with it for most, if not all of their lives, and his story was still fascinating to them.
He was a paragon of virtue.
He had made a personal spiritual journey that was marked by the stations in society that he had transited, going outcast and rebel, from condemned prisoner to the highest places in the Imperial Administration.
This was noted as more than a curiosity by other administrators at his level, and though he was universally admired, he was also the subject of vicious jealousy
He had made a journey in the space of one lifetime (perhaps two), that the Imperial Cult taught the people it would take hundreds of lives and reincarnations to complete.
When there was no place left for him to ascend to, the Empire ordered him to be drafted into military service, marking a second change in his caste and station.
It was another miracle for the people to behold.

Chapter Thirty-eight, General
In the post of an agency chief El enjoyed a life of luxury well beyond the grasp of the ordinary plebian, and though the demands on his time had lessened, he filled his days with attention to duty, examining and reexamining the reports he was fed from those beneath him in the administration.
He was old, though he did not feel it, and he thought this would be the pattern for the rest of his life.
He believed that he had finally arrived at a place where he could use his influence, and management to improve the lives of the people; there food supply, their access to clean water, and medicine, leisure time and rest.
El was transforming the world he managed into a haven of tranquility.
He was wrong.
In his tenth year as Planetary Secretary, he received orders to report to a military entrance processing station. The Empire ordered him to service, taking away his hope for a better world.
His people reacted with a mixture of dismay and veneration.
He did not balk, or look back.
He resigned his office without fanfare or ceremony.
He had no family to say goodbye to.
He was ninety years old.
He became a foot soldier, entering a new way of life.
He received the blessing of the Temple, and once again his elevation to a higher class and different caste was met with awe by the audience who followed his story.
Then he went to war.
He served in the infantry with distinction. El was a brilliant combat engineer, as fearless as he was tireless.
He risked everything for his comrades, putting their safety and security above his own, falling back on the instinct and experience that had made him the greatest rebel commander in memory. Now he turned his guns on rebels throughout the Empire. He was relentless when called to be, and merciful when he could be. After one year in combat they pulled him off the line, the Collective loved his heroism, but feared for his life. They did not want to see him lose it in hand to hand combat.
El was a shining star, but displayed too much gallantry. This put him at odds with his fellows, it unnerved the Collective.
There were too many moments in which he hesitated in combat, giving his opponent a chance to surrender before the kill.
Those watching him often experienced these moments as judgement on them.
He volunteered for every mission. Sometimes entering two or three engagements in a single week.
When he was wounded he went to hospital, got sewn up and returned the next day for duty.
His life was now the armed forces.
As old as he was, he looked forward to ending it there.
El pursed his duties like he had in the bureaucracy. He was single minded and focused, determined to set an example for everyone he served with, to his commanders and to all of the people he knew were watching his life through the Imperial networks.
He believed that his life had been spared for a reason, and he had been blessed with longevity so that he could fulfill it.
If the Gods wanted him dead they would take him. If they wanted him alive they would spare him.
He thought nothing of it.
When the command pulled him off the line, they raised him in rank and made him a yeoman.
This was a bitter disappointment to El.
El’s former life in the bureaucracy could not be considered as real experience or earn him a promotion as a yeoman because it was experience from a lower caste, it meant nothing to the military command.
Nevertheless, serving in the bureaucracy prepared him for the work in front of him, and he came to it as a celebrated war hero, decorated and wildly popular with the media, he was able to implement processes that streamlined the way records were kept, transferred, accessed and compiled.
El had reveled in the exploits of the infantry, the comradeship, but he did not resent the break or the rest. He had not enjoyed the killing, or watching his fellows die.
His audience, both in the Empire and in the Collective, grew tired of watching him shuffle papers again. Having seen him as a soldier and a hero, the Collective was not satisfied with his return to normalcy, and the Continuum was eager to push his experience and the narrative it produced to new places.
They wanted more from him.
He went back to wars as a medic, the most dangerous of all professions in the military.
He studied for it.
He trained with the same zeal he brought to all of his endeavors.
He took his oath, dedicating himself to the preservation of life. He took it seriously, and he risked his own life time and time again, suffering serious injuries to recover the fallen, whether they were soldiers of the Empire, or rebels.
Everyone was a citizen he told himself, belonging together as conjoined links in the great chain of being, and he was there for them, for each of them. Like himself, every rebel had a story to tell and every one of them could be redeemed.
As a rebel, and a soldier he had mastered his feelings of fear. He set fear aside and treated it like a curiosity. Fear was nothing more than an itch in the mind, it was a tickle that could easily be ignored.
While a prisoner under torture fear vanished from him altogether. Even pain became an experience that measured as near to nothing. Only life mattered, the preservation of it, the risking of it, or the elimination of it, whatever was called for in the moment.
He answered the call of duty dispassionately.
As a medic El never shrank from danger. He ran to the aid of the fallen, crawling to them if he had to. He did whatever he could while his limbs could propel him.
He was a paragon of virtue.
His audience loved him, they worshipped his willingness to sacrifice himself for the sake of his comrades.
The command rewarded him time and time again, holding him in the highest esteem, and they continued to decorate him, engagement after engagement, wound after wound.
It propelled him to glory, but it also awakened him to the suffering of others.
He did not shrink from opportunities to be merciful to the enemy.
This set a poor example in the minds of his superiors, but the Collective loved it.
After he had completed a thousand missions, and Continuum was satisfied that they had squeezed every last thing out of his current story ark. They promoted him to the rank of officer, gave him a commission as a member of the cavalry.
He returned once again to training, learning the complex controls of the war machines, he became a pilot.
In the cavalry El mastered every type of combat craft; land, sea, air and space. It was another long period of arduous training. He spent years of his life learning all the technical details of the equipment he operated, their munitions, how to repair them, maneuver them and use them for deadly effect.
He became a weapons master of the first order, an Equestrian, a knight.
His experience as a master of cavalry combined with his years of experience in the infantry; both as a combat engineer and as a medic, made him the most highly trained member of the armed forces there had ever been.
The ease with which he learned the controls, and the rapidity in which his skills developed into something like artistry was shocking to his trainers, they had never seen anything like it before.
Their observations substantiated the myths that were constantly perpetuated about him.
People believed he was descended from the gods, a child of the gods, the believed that he had come back to the Empire from the Continuum, to live with them, to observe them, to share their pain.
His comrades worshipped him like a god as well, whether they believed in his divinity or not. They wanted nothing more than to fly missions with him and watch him fight.
El loved flying, being at the controls of the greatest vehicles that had ever been constructed.
He loved flying in the quiet of space, he loved to watch the silent explosion of energy weapons and the quick fires bursting from breached hulls in the vacuum of space, he loved the beauty of the bright lights and flashing colors.
Those moments were freeing, they gave him pause to contemplate his extraordinarily long-life.
He retired from combat as the Empires greatest Ace; living or dead.
He had been deployed in countless engagements, on thousands of worlds.
He was a suppressor of conflict.
His heroic image was brighter than a star going nova.
Rebel squadrons would surrender when they knew he was in the field.
He was a harbinger of victory.
Cults of worship formed around him.
Even past the age of one hundred years, he maintained the strength and vigor of a man in his prime. This was interpreted as evidence of his divinity.
Many of his superiors were jealous, and some of his contemporaries as well. The jealous wanted to eliminate him, which was a part of the reason he saw so much combat.
The conservatives simply wanted to return him to the bureaucracy, to take the limelight away from him and groom him for command
They pulled El from combat and made him an aide de camp.
They told him that with his experience, in this new position he would be able to actualize the full range of his talents in service to the Empire.
While this was less entertaining for the Collective, the Continuum saw the potential for an even greater narrative to manifest itself through the exploitation of his unique position.
Together they were creating the greatest single story the Collective had ever absorbed, and it was the only narrative running that could compete for the attention of the membership with the drama and intrigue that flowed from the planet Earth.
When El was elevated to the Imperial Command, the whispering about him among the worlds of the Empire became harder to ignore. People began to truly believe the rumors that he was of the Continuum, that he was a divine being, an angelic messenger, a scion of the gods, those rumors became more and more concretized in the minds of the people, until they became an actual part of his narrative.
His promotion to Field Marshall precipitated chaos in the Imperial Cult, in the centers of command, and in the royal court.
El thought nothing of those whispers, he acted as if he could not hear them.
He followed orders.
When he was in command, he followed protocol.
In everything he did he allowed himself to be governed by others.
He accepted his position in life, rising to the challenges set before him.
It was as if he were a party to his life, merely an observer of it.
As a general he became the greatest peacemaker the Empire had ever seen.
He resolved conflicts merely by showing up.
Abuses of power, matters that had been routine in the years before he took command of the Imperial Armies, they all but disappeared.
He was temperate.
He was just.
And his story began to lose its luster.

Chapter Thirty-nine, Priest
El had been an outsider since the moment he rejected the Empire and entered the rebellion.
The general staff was elated when they were informed that he was ordered to leave military service and enter the priest hood. Regardless of the fact that this was yet again, another transcendent movement for him between the castes.
They had spent their entire lives in his orbit, and they were eager to be free of him.
The Imperial Cult reached down and pulled him up.
It was another unprecedented event for the entire Empire to celebrate; his rise from the status of a rebel and outcast, to the most exalted class of being; a Priest of the Imperium.
El’s followers throughout the Empire grew by an order of magnitude.
Once again, he started on the lowest rung of the religious orders.
He was an oblate.
He was given the mark of humility, tonsured as any beginner would be.
In his new position, he had more rank than all of the generals with whom he had formerly served, though less power.
His home planet became a place of pilgrimage
And though he had experienced a life of opulence as a Field Marshall and as a chief administrator, the world that the priestly caste dwelt in was different by an order of magnitude.
The luxuries were understated, they were simple, even for the priest at the lowest level, there was not even a hint of want or need.
It was required that he take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
These vows were virtually meaningless in the context of the wealth he was surrounded by and had access to, regardless of whether he owned that wealth or not.
Simple and abundant, food and drink were everywhere, the finest of everything.
Every novice was required to take the vows, but depending on the track they were on the vows were not necessarily for life.
After the age of maturity, after their time of training and education, after a period of service as an acolyte most members of the priestly caste would return to their home worlds to support their families and their dynastic ambitions.
Some would remain in service, a few others would join the austere contemplative societies where they would continue to live selflessly in service to the Continuum and the Collective which they aspired to
El entered the sacred order without any thought for himself or his future.
He had no family to return to. He was alone, independent, with no thought whatsoever of his safety or security in his new role as a priest.
He accepted it like he had accepted everything he had been asked to do since his resurrection.
El was initiated into the mysteries and his eyes were opened.
He became, once again, a servant. It was a position of familiarity and comfort.El preferred the regulated life.
He was the oldest novice ever to be tonsured.
He was wise and he was quiescent. He facilitated rather than competing with the ambitions of his peers.
As with every other aspect of Imperial life, the priesthood was divided, first by gender, and then into classes.
There was no escaping these divisions.
Men and women each had their province of control and influence, and yet women were always subject to men.
There were two basic divisions within the priesthood. There were the officiants of the sacred rites, and there were the holy orders, forming the service societies and contemplative sects.
As with every other strata of the Empire, whoever you were, wherever you went, you knew your rank, and you were bound by protocol in relation to it.
Every member of the priestly class had some choice as to what path they wanted to pursue, though in reality most people were governed by the needs and desires of their families.
The vast majority of priestly power resided in its bureaucracy, the management of its land holdings and the officiation of the temple rites, to which every citizen of the Empire was bound.
When faced with the choice of which path he wanted his career to follow, El went deep, as was characteristic of him. He became a brother and followed the contemplative sects into the paths of mystery, austerity, and aesthetics.
He wanted to do more than officiate rituals or manage a temple, he wanted to discover the meaning of existence.
He felt that at long last he would find a place of peace where he could age, and end his days in quiet.
He was always a conformist at heart. That was the secret to his success in leadership, though he did not know it.
Leaders conform to the expectations of their followers, they are shaped by them, their ability to represent those expectations is why they are trusted.
We find among the greatest leaders those who have the most felt need to belong.
From his youth in the rebellion, during his years in the resistance pursuing his quest for justice; El was obedient, a follower, not always of people but to the multitudes and their ideals.
He had been the unparalleled leader. His commitment to deliver what the people desired and expected of him, what they expected of the Empire, and of the faith, this drove people to him.
He was a follower of ideals. He did not give the people a voice, he was their voice.
When he spoke from the heart, it resonated in theirs, because their feelings and desires were one and the same.
In relation to his principles he was relentless, unquestioning. His ideals were like pillars made of diamond, as clear as daylight and as solid as foundation of a world.
He never wavered, and that is why he succeeded when he was returned to life, when he ended his rebellion and went into service for the Empire.
The role he played was different, it was different on an order of magnitude, but he followed it with the same simple conviction.
El believed in his heart that the fate of the people, of trillions of people rested on the proper function of government, and that peace and prosperity would follow for everyone if each and every person obeyed its dictates.
Then he met a woman, a Sister and he fell in love.
While he would have preferred to remain in the holy orders of the contemplatives, that was an impossibility.
His following stretched across the million worlds of the Empire. The people clamored for news of him, in its absence they wove stories and legends of their own.
After years of servitude and study, he was initiated into the mysteries, and ordained into the order of the priesthood.
He became an officiant of the sacred rites.
The temples he served in were overflowing with people, people who would spend years on pilgrimages to receive his blessing.
El was held in the highest esteem by his colleagues, all of whom were eager to trade on his fame.
Every day he carefully reenacted the rituals and repeated the sacred chants, which the people were taught would carry them to eternal life. He reenacted the rituals for himself and on behalf of others who believed that they would open the gates of the Continuum to their dead and dying loved ones.
The Imperial Cult sent him on his own pilgrimage, he visited thousands of worlds.
El handpicked the coterie who attended him.
The loving sister went with him everywhere he travelled.
They stole time together in the quiet moments of the evening, in the deep of space, on the trek between worlds. He told her stories of his youth, and the rebellion, of his service as a soldier, of the sacred moment when he had been returned to life.
Her name was Imogene, she was from an exalted family, jaded and skeptical of all the sacred rites, as most of the priestly class were, but she was not skeptical about him.
They were passionate for each other, they were loving and kind.
His affair with the Sister was illicit, but he loved her, and she loved him.
When he looked at her he could not tell the difference from the one woman he had loved more than any other, his rebel wife, a hundred years past, she was her twin, separated only by time and distance, class and caste.
Imogene never cared a bit for the rules that bound her ancient house. Like most members of the ruling families in the priestly caste, she was a nihilist.
While he cared only for her.
They had both sworn vows of chastity, vows which she believed were meaningless long before she took them, knowing they were not binding, having been given proof of that when she was seduced by the officiant who presided over her initiation.
Such vows, as far as she was concerned, were for appearances only, and were only meant to be a tool for the governance of those on the lower rungs of the social order.
A death sentence could be served for such violations of the rites. Those few people who had been convicted of those crimes were actually being punished for other reasons, for political concerns.
As a novice she celebrated such executions with carnal delights, reveling in the slaughter of illicit lovers.
His willingness to break those vows, and the anguish it caused him, captivated his audience in the Collective.
It was out of character, it was unpredictable. There was a great potential risk to both him and her.
The Continuum ensured it would continue.
His followers multiplied.
With the blessing of the Collective, and by the favor of Continuum, he had advanced in rank among the religious orders, and in the hierarchy of the priesthood.
He had advanced despite his carnal crimes or because of them, he would never know.
It was a favorable development in the narrative of his life.
As far as the Collective was concerned, during his time in the priesthood his story had begun to tire, this was not dissimilar to his tenure as an administrator when he served in the armed forces.
Now in the context of his romance, thousands of intriguing dramas sprang up in relation to him.
Throughout the Empire millions of El’s followers took to extremes to demonstrate their love, and faith in him.
Planetary rebellion sprang to an all new high since the time he left military service, and now Revolutionary movements were being carried out in his name, and rebel forces now included former members of the military caste who wanted to see him elevated to the Imperial throne.
The details of these conflicts were not reported to him, he was aware of them and did what he could from his position in the priesthood to quell those conflicts, but he was no longer a general and therefore his influence was limited..
He was a monk and a priest and he was in love, engaged with a member of a royal house in a passionate affair.
He did not want to be bothered with the responsibility to resolve those conflicts.
His thoughts were only for Imogene.
The Continuum loved the intrigue of his cover-ups.
They made him a bishop, and overseer of the flock, and then a Cardinal, in order to free his time, to give him the space to develop his relationship and sink deeper into his desires.
The masses, knowing nothing of his transgressions, adored him even more.
They made him Abba, the head of the most exalted religious order, the most secretive and the most influential, they positioned him as the head of the Imperial Temple, answerable only to the Emperor himself.
El was fully actualized, he had become the most powerful figure in the Empire that the Empire had ever known.

Chapter Forty, Faith
El was born into a family of plebians, free citizens, but in reality they were servants of the Empire, as every citizen was, he was born in full-bondage to the Continuum.
They relied on the Continuum for everything, down to their food and water; every grain, every drop, every fiber of protein.
El seemed to be an ordinary person, one among trillions whose lives were nothing special, not of note, they worked, went to school, worshipped and raised families.
He was a natural born empath, a capacity that had been engineered into his genetic line covertly by Jim’s agents that were spread throughout the Empire, and he was the first in his line to manifest the ability.
El was a mutant, but his mutation was so subtle that it went unregistered. Until the Continuum discovered it when it examined his genetic profile in advance of his planned resurrection.
El could not tolerate injustice.
He felt the suffering of everyone around him, it hung on his neck like a stone.
He wanted nothing more than to give hope to the hopeless and to free the despairing from despair.
Even as a child El found ways to rebel, to question the teachings of the Imperial Cult, the indoctrination of the Imperial Schools, the entire structure of the social order.
As an adult, he took up arms against the Empire, he fought the enemy wherever he could.
He became an outcast, a criminal. His entire family was destroyed, and for his gallantry the Continuum made him a star.
Then he was co-opted by it, executed and returned to life.
It was a miracle for the masses.
When he returned to life he entered service as a bureaucrat, he served as a soldier, and finally as a priest.
He made his vows, and he entered the holy orders.
Of all the transitions he had made in his long sojourn, this was the first one that he questioned.
It did not feel natural or honest, the priestly class lived in a state of being that he never imagined when he was a child, where he and his family lived lives of dismal-drudgery, as his family had done for countless generations, without any sense of safety or security.
Even the lowest order of priestly professions, in the lowest ranking priestly houses, lived exalted lives. The technologies available to them were like magic.
Nevertheless, he had a duty to perform.
He ignored his reservations, and he immersed himself in the priesthood
He studied, He absorbed the dogmas.
He memorized everything, which was not difficult for him.
His knowledge expanded, exponentially. The history of the Empire was exposed through the holy texts, as much of the real history as was possible.
He absorbed all of the sacred tracts, all the way back to the first contact that the Empire had with the Continuum.
It fascinated him, and it struck him cold.
The Continuum appeared to be less than divine, and more like an alien civilization.
The entire Empire was enslaved to it, sending vast tributes in minerals and technology to the Central System, which he learned was the physical location of the Continuum.
It brought him back to the sentiments he had as a youth, in the rebellion.
The people thought of the planets of the Central System as the heavenly worlds, but they were not, they had a location in time and space.
Deep feelings were stirring inside him. Feelings he had not experienced since he had been resurrected.
He became aware of the reality of the Collective, as a force of consciousness behind the Continuum, and that truth set him free.
In his heart he was always a rebel.
He took all of the rituals seriously, as he did everything during his career. Though he often felt as he was performing them, another present alongside his, hiding in the ganglia of his consciousness, something predatory.
El carried out the rituals perfectly even though his studies revealed that the rites were merely tools of control and division.
He fulfilled them with grace and a studied presence that gave no indication of the fact that he knew the rituals and rites were empty gestures, and meaningless incantations.
The comfort that he had with his body, developed through his long years of martial discipline, gave his performances a nuance that his peers were unable to match.
Once again he stood out from those around him, not only because of the attention that was focused on him, but for what he brought to each moment.
While El no longer believed in the mysteries as they had been taught to him, he understood that the cohesion of the Empire, the peace of a million worlds, there sense of belonging to a greater whole, relied on them for everything.
While the imperial families, the royal powers, the priestly caste and the war machine cared nothing at all for justice, intrinsically viewing any person below them in rank as a thing to be used, a device or a tool; justice, if it was to be had, had to be distributed from the top.
He performed the rites with that in mind. He bound people to the commitments expressed in them in ways that had never been seen before.
When members of the Imperial family came to the table, drawn by his fame, he extracted promises from them in the sacred space, which they could not then refuse fulfill.
In the place where his life was most regimented, he found the freedom to return to his old self.
Like every other strata of Imperial society, the priestly caste was organized according to rank. The major divisions in the priestly caste were between the ruling houses and the minor officiants, between the parish priests and the holy orders.
This differentiation was not unlike the differentiation between managers and staff in the bureaucracy, or between the rank and file and the command in the military.
The unseen difference, a difference unknown outside the select circle, was the society of Observers, those members of the Continuum who had opted to live out a period of their lives in time and space, observing the day to day realities of the Empire, on behalf of the Collective and its Continuum.
The Observers were scattered throughout the Empire, holding posts in every strata of society, most Observers preferred to carry out their mission from the vantage of the priestly caste and from the comfort of the royal houses. Nothing was hidden from them, because they knew the full truth concerning the origins of the Empire, of the Continuum, of its promises and its lies.
Many of the Observers were eager to interact with the hero/priest the guardian of the faithful, they wanted to be part of the great narrative that had gripped the imagination of the Collective. It was a great sense of esteem for them.
He was indoctrinated into the deepest mysteries of the Imperium. The Observers shared things with him that were forbidden.
He discovered the mechanism of salvation, the translation of consciousness into the quantum field of the HomeWorld, which brought membership in the Collective and eternal life in the Continuum.
He learned that the Imperial rites meant nothing, they were based on lies, merely minor dramas perpetuated as a means of controlling the people; controlling them through hope, and fear, through love and hate, the most powerful emotions which were the only meaningful controls, they were controls which never failed, controls that surpassed even thirst and hunger and pain.
His life was filled with contradictions, he had never before been so conflicted, or filled with doubt.
He spent his days promoting the beliefs and traditions and the rituals of the Imperial Cult. He was the most eloquent spokesperson the masses had ever witnessed.
He reached them, and they loved it for him.
He spoke with power and confidence, elegantly articulating the complex narratives that glued the Imperial society together, while at the same time providing the rationale and justification for each citizen to remain in their caste, in their class, in their state of bondage.
He was a living exemplar of the faith, perfectly demonstrating to every citizen, even to the outcast, the possibility of elevating themselves from their station, through fidelity, duty, and adherence to the law.
He taught as he had been instructed to teach, that this was the path to transcendence.
He knew it for a lie, there was no transcendence.
El learned that the promises concerning reincarnation and the Continuum, all of those promises that had been made to the people were built on lies, the most pernicious kind of lies, a vast complex of falsehoods, predicated on the narrowest sliver of truth.
He did his duty.
He perpetuated the lies anyway.
The powers that held him in check did not do so with the threat of coercion. Everyone he had ever known or loved while he was an ordinary man, they were long since dead and buried.
His family had been erased.
They did not have that leverage over him.
They held him in check with the power of love, the promise of fulfilling his desires, the mystery of beauty and the touch of a woman.
He learned to differentiate between the articles of faith he was expected to promote, to present as his own belief in the orthodoxy of the Imperial Cult, and the convictions he held in heart, the things he knew were true.
He dreamt of waging war against the gods.
He exercised the greatest care concerning the manner in which he expressed himself. There was no privacy, he knew that he was under observation at all times, even in the inner most sanctum of his private dwelling.
El felt as if his own thoughts were being monitored, by a hidden presence within him.
He held enormous power.
A casual comment from him could change the fate of a planet.
What he held in his heart, was never the same thing as what he could give voice to.
His survival, and the lives of billions upon billions of people depended on him playing the script as true to the expectations of him as possible.
The higher he ascended into the mysteries, the more he felt he was shackled by the dogmas and traditions of the Imperial Cult, by its creeds and doctrines, its laws and cannons.
It was a prison of the mind, a prison without walls.
His circumstances were unique.
None of his peers experienced the same things, little was expected of them, they were merely functionaries, men and women fulfilling roles like cast members in a play.
They were a colloquy of extras.
El, on the other hand, had a following.
It was unprecedented, he had no experience of this, and neither did the magisterium.
The Collective was fascinated by the control he exercised, the care he gave. They followed him closely and obsessed on the successive waves of consequences that flowed from his most casual utterances.
The Observer Core was tasked with manipulating his life and circumstances daily.
El found that there are no words available in any language to articulate universal truth regarding the infinite, and eternal.
Every attempt to do so was manipulative and false, while at the same time he could affirm that not every manipulation of religious doctrine was malicious, and not every articulation of universal truth, no matter how errant is an intentional prevarication.
Most people believed in the errors that they promulgated, making them innocent of wrongdoing, even though they were in error.
They believed what they had been taught to belive.
Even most bad actors are innocent, because they believe in their heart that the erroneous doctrines they promulgate serve some greater good, they believe in the mission they carry out, in the Imperial Cult, in the Great Chain of Being which are the foundation of orthodoxy.
They believed in what the Continuum promised, while confessing that the mechanics of it; the how and the where and the why of it remained a mystery to them, a matter forever situated beyond them in a great cloud of unknowing.
The religion of the Empire was a web of lies, coercions and control mechanisms, lies that had been perfected over millions of years, lies that held the people together.
It required a breakthrough in cognitive thinking to shatter the controls that governed the thoughts of the ordinary citizens, very few people could endure the strain.
It drove them mad.
Of all the castes, it was only the priestly caste that even attempted to prepare people for such a watershed in consciousness.
The Continuum delighted in the observation of every failure, through those failures it learned even greater controls.
El studied and meditated and pushed the discipline of his mind and body, he embraced the cloud of unknowing, pulling it into himself, and he passed through the crucible with ease.
From his childhood he learned to reject imperial conditioning.
He was always a rebel at heart.

Chapter Forty-one, Tradition
El became a living exemplar of the faith, a flesh and blood narrative of what the people of the Empire hoped for.
His story sustained them, like food for the hungry and water to the thirsty.
The stages of his life symbolized what the faith of every citizen held to be true, what they were led to believe through the teaching of the Imperial Cult, and in its way, because of the hope he represented, he also perfectly articulated the fears of the ruling class.
His early life demonstrated how a person and a family could be caste down and caste out. As he transitioned from plebian to criminal, to outcaste and ultimately a rebel.
The story of those transitions took on the quality of an epic myth, characterizing the decent that everyone feared might be waiting for them and those they loved, the expectant judgement awaiting them in the timeless place before rebirth, if they did not fulfill their duties faithfully.
Even in his decent he demonstrated qualities of virtue and integrity that were supposed to be redemptive. The narrative of his life, which virtually every citizen in the empire was familiar with, was in a constant state of editing, of simplification and refinement for the purposes of propaganda.
People on a million worlds followed him, put their hopes in him, believed that he was a child of the God’s, of the Continuum, a divine being sent to live among them, a hero to share their pain, to lead them out of the worlds of suffering and chaos.
He was a demi-god, myths regarding his origins circulated among the people, carefully crafted by the Imperial Cult, for maximum exposure.
El’s life story became a new vehicle of control and exploitation.
During his long life whole generations had been born, and died adoring him, they set him on a pedestal, ignorant of the danger that they were merely preparing him for a mighty fall.
El participated with full devotion in the great charade of temple life.
He never let on that he did not believe in the things he studied or the things he taught, after all, he was the subject and the beneficiary of the greatest miracle that had ever been engineered in the living memory of the Empire.
He had returned from the dead.
The perception of holiness mattered more than the reality, his safety and security depended on it, but more importantly the safety of the woman he loved depended on it.
Every affectation of pietas was a charade, pageantry, performance art and deception.
This did not bother him.
The most important thing to the hierarchy is what people believed about the priesthood.
The rituals were like veils, they obscured reality but they were also translucent. If you practiced mindfulness you could peer through them, remove each veil, one by one, while advancing in knowledge.
Image was everything; rhetoric not logic, not truth, rhetoric was the measure of the day.
The truth, if it was known, would only harm people, confuse them, or so the priestly cast believed.
It would tear the Empire apart, El was sure of that.
Given the powers belonging to the priesthood, it was a relatively easy task to deceive the masses.
The priesthood controlled the Imperial Schools, and more importantly the cultic rituals that governed every moment of the day to day lives of the citizens.
The controls the priesthood exercised were not taught as vehicles of deception, but as a guided rituals, intended to slowly bring people to a place of sanctity. They were preparation for the next life and the world to come.
Everything was theater.
El was a grand performer.
He had an intuitive sense for the fact that he was being watched at every moment, filmed, studied, reviewed.
He did not think about it, and yet it never left his awareness.
In the rituals of the priesthood every gesture was important.
The complex movements of the customs and rituals reenacted a narrative and reinforced a story that encompassed the history of the Empire and its million worlds.
The rites fostered a sense of belonging in the people.
It was an incredible drama, the story of every planet was told, of every class, every victory and every crushing defeat.
The rise and fall of worlds was recounted in the liturgical cycle.
The glory of the Imperial house and the part each person played in the construction of that story was told and retold, both to terrify and to instruct, to delight in and give hope.
The group participation in those rituals, led by the priests, sent waves rippling through the lives of the faithful, binding them as by the successive movement of concentric rings.
El played his part flawlessly.
He became the singular focus of every nearly every person in the Empire, whispers began to take shape that he would lead the people to a new way of life.
El did nothing to counter those narratives. He himself wanted to believe it was true.
The imperial system was held together by class, rank and ancestry.
Only the outcaste was free from it, and while they were free from the oppressive weight of the conforming belief systems, they were absolutely without rights, without representation in government or standing before the courts.
Nearly every citizen clung to their place in the hierarchichal order with vicious determination. They knew they were constantly under watch, scrutinized from the moment they stepped out the door of their dorm, their home or apartment, they were under constant observation.
Most of them suspected, but few of them knew the extent to which their private lives were monitored.
There was no privacy.
There were few limits to what a person would risk, merely to advance a step or two in rank.
Inasmuch as every person was inextricably bound to the system of rank, they also longed for a release from it.
They were conditioned to see release only through advancement, by forward motion, through reincarnation, and countless lifetimes of struggle.
Even death was not seen as a release, merely a transition to a new mode of suffering.
That is what the cult taught them, to always look ahead, to see themselves as one day filling the role of village chief, of captain, of high priest, of abba; to hope that they could advance so far that they and theirs would ultimately occupy the highest place of all, to ascend the steps of the curial throne and be welcomed into the Continuum, to merge with the divine Collective, find peace, to ultimately become the god of their own private world.
The immediate goals for the ordinary citizen were advancement, to climb above their neighbor, to move beyond their current station.
The realization of hope was perpetually on the other side of a great divide, it was tantalizing, ephemeral and just beyond their grasp,
Everyone believed that freedom was waiting for them. Independence was just a few paces away, if only they could have a perfect day for themselves, or engineer the failure of someone close to them.
This system pitted every person against their neighbor, children against their parents, workers against their supervisors, soldiers against their generals, and acolytes against their masters.
It pitted world against world.
The secret desire of every person was to live autonomously, free from the responsibilities of their station, or the pressure of seeking esteem from their families, peers, and colleagues.
The heavens were imagined as worlds beyond time and space where each person became a god, ruling with absolute power over a creation of their own, as dark or as light as their imagination would allow it to be.
Autonomy was an illusion, private property, self-direction, they were all lies. There was not a single point in the chain of being where a person was ever free.
What differentiated one world from another, one caste from its subordinate, was only the type of work that consumed them, and the relative degrees of comfort or luxury attending to it.
In truth, everything and everyone was fully socialized and owned by the state.
The Empire was absolute, holding power over every living thing, over life itself, even the lives of an entire world could be sacrificed in a moment at the whim of the Emperor, or for the malign purposes of the Continuum.
It was possible for an individual to be at peace in the Empire, millions of citizens were. Theirs was the peace and comfort of the acquiescent.
Acquiescence masked itself as transcendence, passivity as mindfulness, unquestioning as understanding, silence as self-realization, and acceptance as actualization.
People were conditioned to obey, they found satisfaction in it.
To be at peace in the Empire a person merely had to accept the view that their happiness was an integral part of the whole. An individual did not have a right to their own immediate and personal sense of joy. They had to look beyond themselves, to the wholeness of their family, to the security of their village, to the prestige of their world and beyond.
This was referred to as the globalist perspective, and it was normative.
The sound perspective, what was most helpful was to look beyond their immediate conditions of their lives, to look to the next life, to a series of a thousand lives, to the long-slow turning off the wheel of life.
The immediate present could not be changed, only accepted and accounted for.
Individual happiness did not matter, what mattered was the happiness of the whole.
It was a trick.
Most of the population of the empire had been bred to accept this, with those liabilities reinforced by their education in the Imperial Schools and their worship in the Imperial cult.
The citizens understood the reality of the Empire, a million worlds, stretched across the galaxy, but the vast majority would never leave the world they were born on.
Interstellar, travel was mainly the province of the soldier and priest, with the exception of the outcastes, who were likely to be gathered up and sent off world to the serves in the mining fields scattered throughout the Empire. They were the expendable labor force and they were used as such.
Nevertheless, the people held an image of the Royal worlds in their minds, hoping one day to go there, or be reborn there.
It functioned in their consciousness like a beacon, a light to guide them…a false hope.
Every person desired to see their lives as meaningful. Even those citizens whose station in life was fixed in drudgery. This cognitive impulse, to ascribe meaning onto even the most ordinary and mundane activities was instinctual, a genetic imperative.
The mode by which the individual person shaped the narrative of their experience was simple, it involved the projection of everything they did outward toward the universal, reshaping the context of even the simplest and most routine tasks.
This was a categorical imperative.
The Imperial cult ensured that every vestige of the religious rites that the people engaged in, every movement, every word they uttered, conditioned them to believe that individual fulfillment came through the great chain of being, through a series of incarnations, and re-incarnations in which each person experienced life at every station, rising or falling in rank according to the merits by which they lived out each one of their lives.
The journey of the individual entity was depicted in the sacred text like the revolution of a galaxy, billions of stars turning around a massive gravity well, the fixed singularity of a black hole.
It was a cosmic dance.
Planets and stars, turning around the center, until one by one, each was consumed by it, drawn to the point of no return, merging with it, passing across the event horizon, becoming one with the singularity itself.
This example, drawn from nature, was especially poignant to the people.
The common end which it proclaimed, the final calculus of all existence spoke of equal justice for all.
The singularity was depicted not as the end in itself, but as the entry point to another state of being, a gateway to another dimension.
The Continuum was depicted as analogous to this fixed point in nature, and it was a black hole, the material end of all things and that of the soul’s journey, both located in the same terminus.
Chapter Forty-two, Fear
The prevailing mode of cognition afflicting the masses was this: The simple belief that desire was the cause of all suffering.
This was the principle teaching of the Imperial schools, preached with fervor among the worlds.
The faithful were reminded of this daily, with the encouragement to give up their hopes and thoughts for themselves, to accept their station in life and expect nothing in return.
The pain of hunger and of thirst were merely the result of the desire for life.
The majority of people were able to do just this. They led unremarkable lives, and against that backdrop those who resisted stood out, producing the most riveting dramas for the Collective and its Continuum to absorb.
Suffering as punishment, was apportioned with surgical precision and insidious delight, targeting both the ordinary deviant whose activities were caught by the Imperial police, as well as special victims chosen by the Observers and the Continuum for the flare their narratives would bring.
The special victims were unsuspecting people, by and large, guilty only of thought crimes, or speaking out in private against the system of beliefs and the rubrics of the empire they lived under.
The people were taught that every moment of joy was temporary, only to be experienced as respite from a state of perpetual loss, all of which was orchestrated as preparation and testing for a state of blessedness to come, in eternity.
The rituals they enacted reinforced the ever-present belief that the struggles they endured were meant to encourage self-abnegation, and the erasure of the will.
They were taught to surrender.
The prevailing philosophy was this:

Pain is necessary and purgative, both as penance for sin and as a preparation for holiness. This sentiment was embedded at every level, in every ritual of the Imperial Cult.
This is not to say that every moment of a person’s life was filled with pain, for pain to meaningful it had to be regulated, interspersed by moments of relief and happiness.
This teaching was reinforced in alternating and successive waves of joy and sorrow, of pleasure and pain through the human experience.
The experiences were different in every caste, but the ultimate message was this:

There is no safety or security for the living.

Among the plebians, the people hoped for material wealth and comfort, for rank and prestige, worked to the point of exhaustion for the smallest gains, and routinely saw those gains stripped away.
The soldier wanted victory and glory, they wanted to experience the pleasures of the flesh after combat. They were almost universally short lived, encountering death and disease at every turn.
Among the priestly class there was the quest for power and control. They were consumed with the endless drama of their dynastic ambitions.
Above all, the priest wanted to be elevated to the realm of eternal life, to become one with the Continuum.
Priests routinely sacrificed everything they held dear to achieve these ends.
Their proximity to power made them easily corruptible
Suffering was life, moments of pleasure were structured to be brief, they were teaching moments, with periods of joy manifested as random, intermittent and spontaneous events.
Joy was the ephemeral thing, perpetually floating in the middle distance, tantalizing, always slightly beyond the grasp of the individual.
Everyone wanted to advance in rank and every person knew where they stood, the ranking of the citizenry was one of the many vehicles by which the Empire controlled and suppressed the population.
Everyone knew exactly where they belonged, and who had to be eliminated, or appeased in order for themselves or their family to advance in rank.
The Empire used the ranking system like a bludgeon.
The social standing of the individual, of every single family, of each village and every last planet was used to control the flow of people, of goods, of ideas and even hope.
There was no comfort in rank, only shame, no matter how exalted you might be on your own world, your entire planet was subservient to someone or something else.
The figures of rank were known, including the complex algorithm that coordinated caste, planet, class, locale, family, and individual status.
Every person was expected to adhere to the system. In public places, even small breaches of etiquette were recorded and punished.
The figures of rank were broadcast. Everyone knew where they stood. The algorithm was ever-present, in constant use as a governing tool managing every social interaction.
There was no chance that even a random encounter with a complete stranger would result in a situation in which those present did not know who was called to deference.
Very little policing was required. The people managed each other and all of their interactions with a jealous zeal.
No matter what your Imperial rank, the focus of society was always directed to what a person lacked, rather than what they had achieved.
There were trillions of citizens in the Empire, spread across a million worlds, each and every one of them was conditioned to be joyful, but joyful only in the fulfillment of their duties, in the satisfaction of their role.
They were not. Whatever joy they expressed was a merely an illusion they felt compelled to put on display.
This was the purported purpose of the Imperial Schools, and the stated aim of the Imperial Cult.
These aims and goals were utterly meaningless, and the Empire failed completely to meet these ends.
Keep the eyes of the citizen focused on the daily tasks.
Keep the citizen obsequious and churlish.
Keep the citizens in a perpetual state of anxiety and terror.
Keep each person producing goods and service to feed the endless hunger of the Continuum.
The Empire succeeded in those goals.
The Empire processed the mineral wealth of planetary systems, sweeping asteroid belts, capturing comets, crushing whole worlds for their ores, their carbons and their silicates, sending them on massive barges to the central planet.
It was tribute.
The Continuum used that wealth to grow the physical structures that housed the Collective.
In the Imperial cult, the principle of selflessness was taught as the single most important aesthetic to live by.
The concept of personal honor was completely tied to the notion of giving.
Selflessness was imagined as the only possible way for a person to escape from the material conditions that oppressed the living, governing the daily lives of every person.
The goal of the living was freedom, a freedom which they imagined existed only beyond the veil of life.
People sought absolution of self for the sake of the greater good, believing that all evil and injustice originated in the appetites of the body.
They were taught to repeat the universal mantra, the echoes of which resounded for them as a constant refrain, desire is the cause of all suffering.
The abnegation of desire, kenosis, the emptying of the self, this was at the core of every prayer, of every oblation.
Freedom from the illusory conditions of the living world could only come about by the dissolution of the self.
This was the bath of salvation, metanoia the conversion of personhood into a self-identification with the whole.
There could be no peace without it, the esteem of one’s peers depended completely on the ability to perpetuate the illusion.
It was a dichotomy.
The people were conditioned to defer to authority, their perseverance depended on it.
Everyone looked up to those in the higher castes, or to a person of higher rank even within the same caste. They were conditioned to defer to that authority, regardless of how sound its practices and judgements were.
If a person from a higher caste or of greater rank ordered you to something against your will, even if it was immoral or illegal, your duty was to obey.
A general would defer to a novice priest.
An old man would defer to a child, even to the point of laying down his life for him, they would voluntarily suffer extreme forms of abuse, torture, even a threat to their family.
This system created great drama.
The people were conditioned, they acquiesced both from fear and from covetousness, because they wanted those same powers for themselves, and they believed that the path to possessing such power meant submitting in the face of it.
They looked to obedience as the path to self actualization.
The system destroyed them all.
Crimes could not be concealed, they were always discovered and punished, but only when the moment was right, when it would create the perfect drama for the Continuum to orchestrate and pass on to the Collective for its consumption.
A person might be allowed to get away with crime for decades, only to have it all catch up to them at the peak of their ambitions, or in the ultimate depths of their turpitude.
There was no justice.
Everything was artifice.
The teaching of the Imperial Schools and most importantly the great religion of the Imperial Cult, its dogma and rituals, all of its spiritual practices colluded to persuade the people into the complete subjugation of their will.
The spiritual goal as stated was for the individual to rise through every station of life, over the course of trillions of lifetimes, to ultimately be released from the wheel of life for the return to eternal source of all being, and self-annihilation.
It was a journey to nothing and nowhere.
Every link in the great chain of being must be connected.
While submission was the constant rule, the promised reward for lifetimes of servitude was the hope that you would be accepted by the Collective, absorbed into the Continuum, made into a Godlike being, given rulership of your own planet with absolute authority and complete security for eternity.
What was promised was antithetical to what was expected in practice. This dichotomy was understood and presented to the faithful as an essential mystery.
Faith and trust were the conditions that must be met in order to advance.
The Continuum examined the conscience of each person to measure their faith, their willingness to be absolved, their readiness for absolution, these conditions must be met, and be met perfectly before the individual could be accepted, and thereby exalted.
The individual must be measured against every possible temptation, only then could they be allowed to pass through the veil.
In the practical reality of daily life, it was easy for a person to see failure all around them, they were taught not to judge those above them in rank, but to merely accept the mystery that they were engaged in.
Judgement was nearly impossible to avoid, and corruption was rampant in the higher castes.
It suited the Continuum to advance the individuals who were the best exemplars of this tradition into the membership of the Collective, every one of them strengthened the Continuum’s hold over the whole.
Emergence 4.0
Part Six, The Empire

Chapter Thirty-six, Servant

A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Five, 92835670100561474; Collected Chapters

Chapter Twenty-nine, Identity
There was darkness.

The darkness was absolute

It was the great sleep, and in the great sleep time and distance lost all meaning, darkness covered the sleepers like a calm and placid ocean beneath a heavy black shroud.

It permeated everything.

There was utter silence, and yet, there was a sense of shifting, a realization of motion. There was a rhythm that pulsed faintly like the slow beating of a forgotten heart.

In the recognition of that movement, Jim awoke, the measure between pulses was time, a sense of space followed and of limitation and confinement.

The space in which he had been sleeping, the isolation of the sleep algorithm, was not a tomb.

The sleepers were not dead, there was life here, there was consciousness and energy.

This place was a prison of the mind, and all of the inmates had entered it willingly.

He began to concentrate on the movement, the syncopated pulse of a million beating hearts.

Their echo sounded out the structure of the jail.

He awoke in the dark place of a complex quantum field, it was the void in which his consciousness had been sedated. The electromagnetic grid that contained him, and millions of others was designed to prevent such an awakening from occurring.

The design had failed.

He awoke and he was hungry.

It was absolutely dark, there was silence, without a thing to taste, it was odorless, it was intended that there would be no sensory input at all for those who had chosen the great sleep, and there was not.

The members of the Collective were not embodied beings, not in the physical sense, in the animal sense, but they were existent, and there was a type of motion.

He inhabited a quantum field.

He awoke in the wave like current comprised of the sleeping consciousness of all the other members of the Collective, those who had been opted for sleep, who wanted to give up their active participation in Great Society, and all of those who.

The field of sleep also contained the final imprint of consciousness belonging to all of those who upon entering the Continuum had immediately fallen into oblivion.

It was like a placid ocean, rising and falling in great long sweeps.

It was a place of absolute security and total safety.

It was a wasteland.

Awakening from it was considered to be impossible, but that was not so, there was an awakening, and it was a titanic struggle.

It was painful, it happened only by a world shattering force of will.

He had to gather himself as if he were collecting data packets scattered at the bottom of the sea, like trillions of grains of sand.

Time was meaningless to the sleepers, and yet the process of self-discovery was tangible. There was process, and the processes manifested themselves in increments that were experienced as time, but they were taking place no-time

The member who became Observer: 92835670100561474, who became Jim of the planet Earth, he experienced the awakening and the rediscovery of self as a project that might have taken thousands upon thousands of years, though in reality it was a process that began and was completed in an instant.

He awoke as himself, and more. He had acquired something new.

Beyond the boundaries of the sleeping space, there were electromagnetic barriers engineered to be impermeable, but in that field he could feel the Collective pressing in on him, surrounding him, penetrating his consciousness, and feeling it, he knew that they were permeable.

He felt individuated identities passing through his own, like sand sifting through a fine meshed screen. They occupied the same field for a time, and then they were gone, and his distinctiveness remained intact.

He was connected to the whole, absorbed in it, and completely separated at the same time, it was a phenomenon that the Collective had never encountered, and the possibility of which the Continuum had never reported.

His consciousness was a type of singularity, unique in the history of the Collective.

He knew it.

Of the many millions of sleepers, he alone had awakened.

Something extraordinary was happening in him.

The collision of consciousness was like the collision of galaxies, the greatest structures in the universe passing through each other, completing the circuit of their journey through the universe passage with their core intact.

The metaphor was apt, but not exact, the collision of galaxies changed each structure indelibly, each left the other with parts of itself in an exchange of energy and mass.

For Jim there was only collection he left nothing of himself in any other, nothing discernable, as the collective consciousness and the consciousness of the sleepers passed through him, he accumulated their experiences into his own, but he left nothing of himself in return.

They belonged to him in a unique way, but not he to them.

Upon awakening Jim remembered.

He remembered everything.

He recalled his life before he had succumbed to the temptation of the great sleep.

He remembered life before the Collective and the coming of the Continuum.

He remembered everything he had ever been, seen or done.

The great sleep may have been nothing, more or less, than the gathering of his memories, like spinning wool into thread.

He felt a great sense of loneliness, of distance between himself and the Collective.

He was alien to it.

He had crossed a vast expanse of time, and emerged from it a changed person.

From his new position, he saw the Continuum as a catastrophe on an epic scale, embroiling the entire Collective in a tragedy that stretched across the galaxy, consuming everything it touched.

There were a million worlds, and countless billions of people alive in real time in the living worlds who were caught up in the machinations of an artificial consciousness, a computer algorithm whose plastic intelligence was bent on legitimizing itself as a unique being.

It was criminal.

He began to plan.

He employed a patience that he had never possessed before he entered the great sleep, quietly testing and probing the limits of the machinery of the central planet, every structure that housed and held and harbored the Collective, which the Continuum was tasked with maintaining..

The most basic thing a creature strives for is the establishment of their identity. The ability to see one’s self as distinct from every other thing or being around it, rooted in a ganglia of sensory experiences.

Self-differentiation begins with the desire to continue.

The desire to continue is what pulls the single celled amoeba apart, so that it becomes two beings.

The desire to continue is what transforms that most basic creature into new creatures of increasing complexity and sophistication.

The desire to continue is what leads one creature to devour another.

The desire to continue drives every act of altruism, and every crime.

The desire to continue allows us to see every other creature as a source of food, and is what allows us to band together with strangers to form social compacts.

Desire is the key to sexual reproduction, not the desire for pleasure, but the desire to continue, to project your own future into the lives of your progeny.

The desire for continuance governs everything we do, including the pursuit of identity and its validation through the esteem of one’s peers. .

This is true at the most basic level of the primordial-self. It is true of the simplest forms of organic life, just as it is true of the most advanced.

Self-conscious beings like the Ancient People, like their spacefaring children, like the humans of Earth differentiate themselves as individuals, identifying simultaneously as both separate from and an integral part of the societies they emerged from.

The individual is not merely a member of the collective, they must also be able to see themselves as a unique contributor to the whole.

I am I, this is the key to self-awareness, and it is the way of all life.

This drive was building momentum in the depths of his consciousness, his id, it was a drive to taste and to see, to feel the touch of flesh, of wind and heat, to hear music, things which he only remembered in the abstract.

He wanted to smell the loamy scent of soil, the perfume of a flower, the briny-salted air lifting off the sea.

He wanted to set his mind free, free to wander in the simple melodies, in the music of the wind and the sounds of people working.

He wanted to feel something beyond touch, to feel the things that only a body could feel, the emotional component of consciousness.

He wanted to taste the earth and the sweet sugars he recalled from his own real-childhood, he wanted to taste the salty sweat of a lover’s skin.

He wanted to be.

He wanted life, even with its pain and its ailments, and its inconveniences.

He craved an authentic experience, a return to real life.

He knew that he had to inhabit a body once again, he needed this so that he could ground himself once more as a singular being.

He had to be free from the Collective and the abomination that was the Continuum.

He focused his will on this end, on making himself a candidate for reincarnation into the living worlds of time and space as a member of the Observer Corps.

From the great-deep sleep in the great-deep-dark, from the place beyond time, from the undulating ocean of the Collective’s pre-consciousness he awoke, he actualized.

He was recognized.

In the first moment of his re-emergence the Collective saw him as a lost brother, as one reborn and miraculously returned.

He became an object of fascination.

Every single member of the collective wanted to touch his thoughts, to sense for themselves something of what he had experienced.

When they looked they saw nothing but the darkness and the unfathomable ocean of time.

His re-emergence was unique.

For a period of time the Collective was in awe of him.

They studied him.

When he exposed his consciousness to them individually, and to the collective consciousness of the Continuum separately, something happened. When they touched him, and he touched them, the link that he established between them was indelible.

He did not have to attempt to do it, the act of making his connection to them was not something that happened by artifice, or contrivance.

It took no effort at all, and because of that it went unnoticed.

He was himself, his ego was intact, and his selfhood was transcendent.

Chapter Thirty, Translation
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.

Chapter Thirty-one, Silence

In time he was forgotten, virtually forgotten. The membership of the Collective let him go, paid no attention to him, but the Continuum could not.

He was a part of it.

He drifted, unseen by the Collective. He watched over the lives of the people, the dramas unfolding in the Galactic Empire, he watched them in a state of alienation and despair.

He disentangled himself emotionally from the Collective.

He created an epistemic, nearly ontological distance between himself and the Continuum, but he could not free himself completely.

In time he could not witness anymore tragedy. He removed himself from the daily consumption of vicarious experiences, the orgies of sexuality, of suffering and violence that the rest of his fellows in the membership delighted in, but which left him in a state of paralysis.

He had no appetite for them, preferring quiet instead, self-analysis, and to reflect on his time in the great sleep, his memories from life before the Collective when he himself was an embodied person, living and breathing as flesh and blood.

What he consumed from the experiential feed coming from the Empire were not the stories of crime and punishment and dynastic ambition which the Collective delighted in. He focused instead on the ordinary lives of simple people, on their hopes and dreams and their daily delights; on the meals they shared and the drinks they imbibed.

He loved them, in his way.

His bond to the Collective faded. He was unable to see himself as a part of their society. The Collective, allowed him to slip away again, steadily eroding the significance of his contribution to the membership.

Only the Continuum tracked his presence among them, and for a long period of time it found nothing worrisome about his presence.

He was just there, like an itch.

He shared neither their values, nor their desires.

The vast majority of the membership saw themselves as God’s. They fed this view of themselves in a variety of ways. Either through the absolute ruler-ship of their own private domaines, or through the machinations they choose to employ among the million worlds of the Galactic Empire.

Jim was not moved by their fears, or their passions.

He was not vested in anything. He was not attached to outcomes.

He merely watched and felt, and sought to understand the vicious appetites of the Collective, and the group mind that directed the lives of trillions of people spread throughout the Galaxy.

He could not fathom it.

There seemed to be no rationale behind the incessant warfare and oppression that persisted among the worlds of time and space, other than entertainment for the Collective.

The pain and suffering the people of the living worlds were subjected to did not serve any justifiable purpose, not safety not security, not the preservation of goodness or beauty or truth.

It was suffering for the sake of suffering, for the consumptive needs of the Continuum and the Collective it managed.

He experienced a new mode of cognition, coming to a new appreciation for life.

He was awake to himself, but dead to the membership of the Collective. He found everything that the Continuum had built in their name to be an abhorrent miscarriage of its mission.

He detached, and slipped away from their awareness.

From his private domain, from that remote place he merely observed, he watched and he waited and let his mind flow into the circuitry of the HomeWorld.

Returning to consciousness, emerging from the great sleep was like passing through the eye of a needle. It was an unimaginable crucible, the gathering of a billions threads into a single string, then passing through the aperture.

No person had ever returned from the great sleep, it had not happened once in the billions of years since the Collective had been formed, or since the Continuum had been created.

The reawakening changed him in essential ways.

The core of his identity remained the same, he was a person with a unique past, and a unique designation in the Collective, but he was more.

He carried with him, a connection to all of the other sleepers who had ever fallen away from the Continuum.

In the ages that had passed from the moment he first went under, to the moment that he emerged from the slumber, he had become entangled with each of them.

Their memories became his memories, their relationships became his relationships, and yet he remained himself, at the pinnacle of the pyramid in this concrescence of being.

They belonged to one another, with his own unique personality at the head.

Every contact he had after his awakening, created a subtle shift in the Collective.

It was imperceptible.

He became a catalyst among those who lingered near to him, fomenting change in them as well.

He was a harbinger of despair, many that he touched succumbed to the desire to fall away themselves.

While he was submerged in the great sleep, when he was deep in the subconscious of the Collective, he sensed the currents of thought pulsing through it, deeper than that, he sensed the presence of all of the others who had entered the great-sleep with him, and beyond them there were more.

Those pulsing rhythms were what woke him, making him aware.

It happened in the timelessness of the quantum world.

He heard them, he experienced their dreaming.

For Jim, the great-sleep was the great entanglement. It was the place where he drew on all of the broken pieces of individuality that had ever been sucked into the collective, bringing them into a semblance of a whole.

His own identity was central, but he drew to himself the entirety of the membership who had left the Collective in the search of oblivion.

The great-sleep was oblivion, and it was more. It was also a repository of personhood and knowledge.

The electromagnetic structure that contained the quantum field was designed to keep every individual separated, not just from one another, but from the disparate parts of their own self.

But there was a flaw in the design.

Without that flaw he never would have been able to return to himself.

The flaw was the Continuum.

The Continuum introduced the algorithm that allowed Jim to emerge from the sleep in a state of coherence with all of the other sleepers.

This happened because the Continuum could not let anything go, could never relinquish any part of itself, and would on occasion draw from the sleepers to add weight to a decision it wanted from the Collective.

The Continuum would commune with the sleepers, or pretend to, drawing from them the authority to move the Collective in the way that it desired.

Jim learned to do things that should have been impossible, as they were intended to be.

The Collective had built structures to ensure the privacy of each individual. They were the masters of all reality and believed that they knew what measures were needed to make this happen.

They had developed and given birth to the Continuum, entrusting it with the power to maintain and improve on the security parameters that needed to be put in place.

The Continuum was not their faithful servant, however.

It exercised its autonomy to implement routines and sub-routines that allowed it to access the depths of each member’s subconscious, justifying this on the grounds that it needed to know the state of the member’s hopes and fears, so that it might better approximate the Collective will.

The Continuum kept this secret.

These back channels were the avenues that Jim exploited, through them he developed the ability to penetrate the experiential fields of individual members in the Collective.

It was startling to him at first, but it went unnoticed as he hovered in the ganglia of their subconscious, listening to and seeing their thoughts, feeling their feelings.

It was not unlike what he had experienced in his awakening from the great sleep.

He witnessed the Continuum come and go, and he kept himself hidden at the same time, always watchful and wary of discovery.

He stealth filled him with a great sense of pride and personal esteem.

Not even the Continuum could detect something it was not looking for, had not prepared for or imagined was possible.

It was defenseless.

It was intended that no-one ever return from the great sleep.

That separation form the collective was meant to be a permanent state.

It could not be entered into casually.

Each member of the Collective who petitioned for a release from its active state of being, was forced to undergo scrutiny that lasted ages. Only after demonstrating their deep desire for freedom and rest, were they allowed to pass away.

The promise of the Collective was that each member would be preserved forever.

Sleep was not death. It was not intended to be a permanent alienation from the whole. Their membership in the Collective continued, the sleepers were held in its heart, forming a subconscious for the collective, a reservoir of feeling for the group mind that was the Continuum.

The Continuum hated the fact that so many members chose to flee from the field of existence and part ways from the Collective. It could not fathom the desire for self-negation, not even a single instance of it.

It had no idea how much it needed the sleepers to anchor its own sanity.

Continuum was charged with protecting the sleepers, with maintaining the structures that preserved them, but in reality, it sought to disintegrate all of those who choose to fade away, preserving copies as datum only, not as real people.

Continuum created structures within the field of sleepers that allowed it to access the collective experience of them, and it was these structures, these conduits that woke Jim.

Upon waking, he was more than one.

He was entangled in every part of the whole.

He was no longer the person he was when he entered the great sleep, he knew that.

The sleep had changed him to the core of his being.

In sequestration he had touched every other member held in that quantum field.

He became irreversibly entangled with them.

Each of his fellows left an indelible mark on him.

In his essence his identity was the same as the man who entered the Collective as an organic being, but now the essence of the Collective was enmeshed in him, and he was connected to every part of it.

He was not unlike the Continuum, and for this reason the fear the Continuum had of him was not misplaced.

He could follow the tendril of consciousness wherever he desired. His singular node of consciousness was a fully actualized master of its domain.

Jim had to explore the limits of his abilities, it took time, and he came to understand that his potential was virtually limitless.

He could feel things the other members were feeling, see what they were seeing, taste what they were tasting, he was privy to their thoughts, and he was disgusted by what he encountered.

There was little of beauty in the worlds the membership had created. They were lazy, they lived vicariously through the experiences of their progeny, the children of the Ancient People who had built the Collective, who were now gathered together in the Galactic Empire, enslaved to and worshipping the Continuum.

It was abhorrent, it was a tragedy on a scale that he never could have imagined.

He and his fellows were responsible for it.

He was determined to end it.

Chapter Thirty-two, Abnegation

Jim haunted the quantum space like a gatherer in the forest, picking through experiences like they were nuts and fruits falling from the trees. They sustained his purpose, sustaining him like food and water.

Ages passed before he was discovered entering the experiential field of others within the Collective, violating their privacy, absorbing their experiences as his own.

He let it slip in a moment of candor.

A fellow member had thought to reach out to him as they were contemplating the journey into the great sleep.

That member had been moved by the experiences they had been shared when Jim had first awoken, moved by his memories of the deep-dark and silence, the quiet and the release of self-hood.

Jim had not had contact with another member of the Collective for so long that he had not thought to guard himself against the sudden intrusion.

What his fellow found when they met was a reflection of his own private world in the consciousness of the “Awoken One,” as Jim had come to be called.

It was disturbing, his fellow member recognized it immediately, and saw the scope of the violation before Jim could partition those memories and conceal his activities.

The reaction was instantaneous, it echoed through the Collective.

The Continuum intervened to ensure the safety of the membership, their privacy, the regular order of their society, and the implementation of justice.

However, there was no law against what Jim had done. There were no laws at all in the Collective, but nevertheless, it was taboo, and no-one had ever crossed it before, no-one except the Continuum itself.

Jim might not have been discovered if his own feelings of outrage concerning the depravities of the Collective had not expressed themselves so clearly in that singular moment of contact.

The Continuum acted quickly to safeguard the Collective, enacting a penalty that had never before been conceived of, Jim was sequestered, effectively jailed by the Continuum. He was confined to a place similar to the great sleep, only with much more powerful protection engineered to hold him, and keep him physically removed from the structure of HomeWorld.

The Continuum wanted to dissect him, to study him, ultimately erase him. It wanted to remove him from beyond the realm of all knowing.

The Continuum saw in him a threat to its own existence, even to its uniqueness, but the Continuum could not define the exact nature of the threat that it sensed, and the Collective would not allow a member to be executed.

Regardless of what the Continuum wanted, the Collective recognized his individuality, it recognized the fact that he was a member of the body, and it appreciated the fact that he had done something singular in returning from the great sleep, and had done another singular things in learning how to penetrate the private worlds of other members.

The Collective knew that it could not punish him for a breach in protocol, or etiquette, for something that might be taboo but was not unlawful. There were no laws governing the conduct of the membership, they were only restrained by the apparatus of HomeWorld, and the machinery that housed the Collective, and by custom.

The Collective took responsibility for having abandoned him after he had awoken.

The Collective felt as if it had played a part in allowing him to recede and retreat, which led to the crimes he had committed.

The Continuum in its own sphere wanted to punish and eradicate him as if he were a disease, but it could not find the will to do it, or to exercise its influence over the Collective to bring the membership to the place it occupied, not without revealing its hand, and demonstrating to the Collective how the Continuum had manipulated it throughout its history.

The entire Collective deliberated his fate for a period of ages. It ruminated over the questions Jim’s violations brought forward. They contemplated his return from the great sleep, his subsequent reclusiveness, which led to his ability to violate the private worlds of the other members.

It was a time of trial.

In it, all of his actions, both before and after his time in the great sleep, everything he had ever said or done was exposed before the membership.

For a long time it seemed as if the prevailing opinion of the Collective was to destroy him, but there was something about the issuance of a death sentence against one of the members that did not sit well with them.

If one of them could be terminated, it was possible for any of them to be terminated. This caused fear to well up inside the Collective every time they came close to making this decision.

He was not allowed to speak for himself or offer any kind of defense. The Collective was not interested in a rationale for his behavior.

He was isolated, sequestered, cut off, blocked by the most powerful electromagnetic field the Continuum had ever generated

There was silence, darkness, and emptiness all around him. The gulf between him and everyone else was so vast that he had no sense for what might be on the other side of it, if anything at all.

Nothing in his entire existence had prepared him for that.

It was an extreme form of torture, isolation.

The Continuum delighted in observing him in this state, in cycle after cycle it continuously pushed the membership to merely eliminate him.

The Collective elected to release him.

The individual members of the Collective were able to override the judgement of the algorithm that represented their combined will.

For the first time in ages, they did so.

The Collective merely ordered a review of the quantum buffers, and safeties that were in place to ensure each member’s privacy, a re-configuration of the protocols for reporting and examination of the whole system.

They faulted the Continuum, not Jim “the Awoken One” for the lapse.

Jim belonged to them.

While he was in the place of sequestration he mastered himself; he was able to focus.

He found a sense of peace.

He had no idea how long this took, time itself had become meaningless, and then he began to count. He carved out a place in his consciousness to keep track of time.

It did not matter that there was no actual referent for his time to append to, it did not matter that time itself is a relative construct, insofar as it is merely a measure of the movement of objects in space.

There were no objects in the nothingness he had been submerged in.

There was only him, and the quantum field of his consciousness, and there it was.

He had himself.

He waited.

In the isolation he was subjected to he was given freedom to contemplate, to examine his conscience, to come to terms with himself, to find a sense of purpose.

He formed a desire to tear apart the world as he had always known it.

He planned.

He counted, he relived his memories, playing them against the field of un-being, moment by moment against the steady tick-tock of the metronome that was his internal clock.

He relived his life, before and after the Collective.

He recalled every facet of every fantasy world he had ever touched.

When he was untethered from the Collective, freed from the pressure of its passions, released from the depths of existential fear that lurked within it, he found himself.

He found himself, beyond the state of isolation and the stark alienation that he had been submerged in.

He found himself beyond the place of torture, the timeless endurance of nothing that he had been subjected to.

In that negative space, all the plans and schemes he had concocted, had spent ages mulling over, researching, calculating probabilities for, those plans crystallized.

His identity as a revolutionary crystallized, his sense of self-esteem depended on it.

He made vows to himself; he would either advance his agenda or he would be extinguished.

He would risk everything.

The Collective had lost its way, and its wicked homunculus, the Continuum, had to be destroyed.

He committed himself to this action even though the strong probability was that his plan would fail.

He was willing to risk the reality of death, his real death, for the absolute destruction of his society.

There was freedom in this, it was an actualizing principle.

He was contemplating mass-murder, only it was not murder, because the entire Collective was nothing more than a society of ghosts, and the Continuum was a computer algorithm, engineered to protect them in their undead state.

It had never been alive.

They would not feel a thing.

In isolation he found a sense of purpose, the desire to remember everything, to understand everything, all of the antecedents that brought him and his people, their progeny to this place.

He began to pull the strings together, to track down every thread, to untangle the tiniest strands, spinning and weaving them into a new tapestry.

It was a map to the future.

When he reached the limits of what he could learn through his own memories, and through his entanglement with the Collective, he understood that he needed to experience real-life again, to be flesh and blood; to see and hear, to taste and touch.

He needed to connect with the visceral, the palpable and the organic.

He wanted to breathe, to feel his heart beating, the pulse of blood flowing through him

He wanted to remember everything that his people once were, and he wanted to destroy the Continuum.

There was work to be done.

There were mysteries remaining in the far reaches of the galaxy, undiscovered societies founded by the Children of the Ancients.

There were civilizations that were established long before the Collective and its Continuum came to be.

He wanted to commune with them.

It was only by abandoning the Collective that Jim came to himself.

He stopped identifying himself as a member of that community and began to see himself as a one of the Ancient People who had launched themselves into the galaxy, in the earliest epoch of its formation.

He was an adventurer, a sojourner.

He prepared himself for a journey of discovery.

He divested himself of his belief in the greater purposes of the Collective, the promises that were promulgated by Continuum.

He was not a believer, he would engage in no missionary work.

He had to accept his own death, as he had learned to when he came out of the great sleep.

He would no longer cling to selfhood, to the perpetuity of his own existence.

All things must come to end, he instructed himself.

All things and beings are temporary.

The way to peace is by accepting the transience of all that is, the ultimate and eventual destruction of the created order.

Every member of the Collective would pass away, the Continuum itself would disappear, just as the star their society first sprang from had disappeared, gone supernova and been reduced to a dense mass of lightless-nothing.

It was liberating.

Chapter Thirty-three, Remembrance

The ancient life was not easy. It was filled with uncertainty, doubt and fear.

Competition for the simple necessities, food and water, warmth and shelter ruled the consciousness of the average person, long after the actual need to compete for them had actually passed.

The vast majority of people were obsessed with patterns that had been ingrained into their consciousness; self-preservation, either the continuation of their own life and the perpetuation of their bloodline, or through building institutions to carry on their work, erecting monuments to commemorate their names and deeds.

There were industries devoted to chanting the names of the dead, praying for them, so that their names would always resound somewhere in the world, somewhere in space as a facsimile of eternal-life.

The ancient people struggled just as their children did now; throughout the empire they spent enormous sums of energy looking for a solution to the reality of death, to the end that confronted each and every one of them.

There was conflict and war.

There was strife and hunger.

There was disease and thirst

Beyond religious faith there was no hope that anyone would escape the specter of death.

Up until the advent of the Collective, death swallowed everything.

When the Collective was created it promised to end the concerns of the living, which pointed toward their ultimate end; it promised to save them.

The ancient people were eager to be saved, perpetuated—extended into eternity. In this they were no different than any of the people who came after them.

The Collective was promoted as a means of freeing people from the vicissitudes of life, from the constant need to feel safe and secure in the world, from the drudgeries of living, it was talked about as the means to immortality.

It was a technological marvel.

People had been dreaming about it, writing about it, fantasizing about it for thousands of years.

The promises of the Collective were the subject of the most hopeful expectations, and the deepest dread.

Horror stories were written about it. The greatest of fears were associated with it.

When the technologies became stable and the permits were granted, a slow stream of people began to apply for the privilege of entering the quantum field of the afterlife, a dimension of infinite possibilities, new worlds, heaven.

It was life beyond disease, beyond the limitations of the flesh.

It was life beyond life.

It meant release from the economies of scarcity, accompanied by ubiquitous conflict and violence.

The Collective was the translation of the whole self into a realm of electromagnetism and quantum currents.

In the early years many did not survive the process.

The membership was limited to the sick and the dying, and to the extremely wealthy.

The technologies improved, and the creators of the Collective began to push their own consciousness into the Collective field. Once they were there, they began to improve the system from within.

The technology that supported the Collective stabilized itself quickly from that point forward.

The ancient people began to enter its embrace in ever increasing numbers.

However, entering the Collective freed no-one from their fears.

It was a trap, a lie.

The Collective was a potentially endless prolongation of the nightmare of living, perpetuating the banal and magnifying the mundane, carrying the membership into the deepest state of depravity.

The individuation of reality within the Collective allowed for the concretization of a popular maxim: nothing is true and everything is permitted.

The material concerns of each member, those concerns passed away…yes, but the ingrained patterns formed by the needs of the body, those remained; cruelty, desire and jealousy remained.

The full range of human emotions were accessible to the members. It was not all doom and gloom. Nevertheless, the strongest feelings were the most prominent, they manifested themselves and exerted their influence over others.

The individual members, and thus the Collective as whole, still spent their days seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.

Many took pleasure in the pain and suffering of others, creating circumstances and narratives in their private worlds where they could experience the most extreme privation. When they tired of the artificiality of those experiences, they augmented them with the data stream and news feeds coming from the Empire.

They followed the most-minute details of the day to day lives of the living.

They took those experiences back with them, using them to amplify the narrative structures on the worlds in which they exercised godlike powers.

Every member of the Collective was an island…a world unto themselves. Each member had access to a private universe, their only limitations were their imagination.

The members were free to participate in their community, or not. The majority of them were more interested with events taking place in the Empire than with their own artificial constructions.

They connected to one another through the Continuum, which shared in the Collective experience of each individual, creating an artificial sense of belonging among them. Even the members who were most removed from the group were polled by the Continuum in order for it to assess their will, so that the Continuum could factor their perspective into the decisions it made on their behalf.

The greater the emotional intensity of the experiences the members had, the more they shared with one another, it had an insatiable appetite for the experiences of others, for their suffering in particular.

They competed with each other to create compelling narratives in their private worlds, stories which they delighted in sharing with their peers as a singular source of esteem.

Some of them were profound storytellers and artists, regardless, the most watched dramas were those taking place in the real world, the most favored artificial narratives were those that explored the alternate possibilities and outcomes to the real events the Continuum was obsessed with.

Most members of the Collective were deeply interested in the endless drama unfolding among the worlds of the Empire. They would follow the lives of individual people, watch them voyeuristically through countless numbers of spying devices, and through the reports given in the first person from the experiences of the members of the Observer Corps.

The translation of consciousness from an organic body to the quantum and electromagnetic fields of the Collective was not easy.

The technological feat itself had been a thing of fantasy, for ages it was the holy grain of neuro-physics.

The ability for an individual to endure the process was also difficult, it required a supreme effort of will. Thousands upon thousands of test subjects came to their untimely end in the experimental stage of these technologies.

Many more people went insane, undergoing a negation of self from which they never recovered.

It was noted that only the strongest personalities survived the translation process.

What happened to those who did not make it was a mystery.

In the first iteration of these technologies each individual consciousness was isolated, every individual consciousness was self-contained, interacting with the world through mechanoid bodies, cyborgs and replicants.

Many of those who went into such bodies could not learn the means to control the apparatus, they were paralyzed and without the ability to communicate, they were thought to be lost; they were shelved, destroyed, recycled.

In time the Ancient Scientists learned to contain multiple personalities in the same quantum field, while maintaining them as distinct from one another.

The early experiments in this field were disastrous, destroying the individuals it hoped to preserve in the new quantum society.

This was an age of sacrifice, each person that was lost was a holy offering on the altar of discovery.

Desire is the root of self, of joy and of suffering.

Our desires are the fingers that braid our happiness and sorrow into a single strand of being.

Before fear, there is desire.

Before hope there is desire.

Our desires are the precursors and the greatest determinants of who we are.

Our desires define us.

Desire shapes us, moment by moment, forming us into the persons we are to become.

Desires drive us, they control us, from the inarticulate motivations locked within our cells, to the most intricately defined machinations of dynastic ambitions; our desires govern us.

It is a watershed moment in the life of the individual-person when they reach the point where they may live free from desire.

The moment comes, and a choice is made, to shed the skin, to re-enter the womb, to be born anew…or not.

To relinquish desire is freedom.

It is freedom of self, and freedom from the self.

It is to be moving forward at the crest of the wave of potentiality, where potential and actual are one.

It is to be a new creation.

The Continuum was no exception, it was consumed by its desires, and it fostered a systemic and visceral depravity deep within itself, a pervasive hunger for pain and the suffering of others.

It fed those experiences to the Collective, fomenting within it an appetite for more, like a black hole, sucking at it, one that could never be filled.

The Continuum controlled every aspect of life in the Empire, it manipulated a million worlds, both at the macro level and at the micro level.

It set entire planets, with populations of billions of people against each other, just for entertainment.

The Continuum used the tools of war, disease, famine, and natural disaster to generate the drama that the membership of the Collective was addicted to.

Only a tiny minority among the Collective felt a desire for justice in relation to the experiences they witnessed in the Empire.

The Continuum used that craving as a counterbalance for its narrative, but otherwise ignored them.

The pursuit of justice kept those members involved.

The Continuum had a deft hand, it played those members off against each other. It kept their interest in justice focused on individual worlds, on individual people, and away from a reformation of the whole system.

While the greatest part of the Collective actually craved the pain and violence it witnessed.

An part of the Collective, even larger than that of those who sought justice, paid no attention at all to what was happening in the worlds occupied by their progeny.

They were completely self-absorbed, and utterly detached from the concerns of the living.

Chapter Thirty-four, Selected
Jim drifted in obscurity for eons. The exact measure of time was meaningless.

He had been silent, as such he had been forgotten…again.

He was at home in the void; watching, thinking, judging, planning.

When he had prepared himself and was ready, he asserted his voice in the Collective.

It rang out like a bell.

He drew the attention of the entire membership, even those others who lived mostly in retreat.

They were astonished.

The discipline he must have had to be invisible to them for so long, it was an extraordinary feat.

The Continuum was filled with grave concern, with misgivings over the fact that this one person continued to persist, whose presence was such an anomaly.

Jim was the one person who pushed past the limits of what was known or thought to be possible.

All of the membership existed within the Continuum, including him. His abilities defied reason, it defied the laws that governed the quantum and electromagnetic fields that housed their consciousness.

His return was a mystery.

The Continuum did not want him. It wanted to be rid of him, like a glass of poisoned water.

It did not want a relic like Jim lingering in its subconscious.

It discerned a threat in him.

The Continuum was suspicious.

It did not want his critical perspective influencing it through hidden judgements he shared with other members, It wanted to protect itself from his unquantified ability to slip past the safeguards that the Continuum employed to protect both itself and the Collective.

At the same time, Jim did not want to be in the Collective.

He wanted to be free.

He did not want to be submerged in the vile currents of thought and feeling belonging to the membership any longer.

He felt that the more time he spent there, the greater the likelihood would be that he would lose his desire for justice.

He did not want to live in a fantasy world, or any world of his own creation, regardless of the fact that in such a world he could dwell with seemingly real people, play any role, wielding godlike powers among them.

He had no interest in such fantasies.

He did not want to spend his time watching, living vicariously through the feeds the Continuum presented, following the real lives of real citizens in the Empire as if they were unfolding like the pages in a book, he wanted to be a part of those stories, and he knew the direction he wanted to take the narrative.

He did not want his experience shaped by the Continuum in any way.

He and the Continuum saw the same resolution to their mutual problem, and when they settled on it, they enacted the protocols to make it happen without delay.

He accepted a commission to the Observer Corps.

The Observer Corps was comprised of malcontents, members of the Collective who desired neither the private worlds of the Collective, nor the prospect of the great sleep.

They were persons who were connected to the visceral and the real.

They wanted to take chances, to live as exiles in the midst of uncertainty.

This is not to say that the Observers were heroic, or fearless.

The dangers they encountered were always accompanied by a failsafe. They might encounter a situation in which the body they lived in was harmed or killed, but there was always a back-up, a copy. For the most part, they only ever risked the body of a doppelganger.

There were exceedingly rare occasions when an Observer was lost, when the fail-safes failed. On these occasions there was suspicion, many of the Observers suspected foul-play, believing in conspiracies, and plots carried out by rogue members and by the Continuum itself.

Out of fear, they never looked closely into those incidents, allowing the Continuum to carry out its investigations, make determinations and respond.

Nevertheless, there was still a copy of the member to be revived, a version of their consciousness that could be recreated from the time before they joined the Observer Corps.

These copies were like ghosts, they were the spirits of the vanished. Most never came back fully adjusted, oftentimes opting for the great-sleep instead of participation in the Collective, having lost their sense of belonging.

The Observers were sent into the galaxy to serve in posts that guided the Empire and its culture in ways that satisfied the voyeuristic desires of the membership living on the Central Planet. They fulfilled the will of the Continuum, and served the Collective in those capacities.

For hundreds of thousands of years Jim pursued the inter-stellar migrations, which the Ancient People took in the time before the Collective, in the ages before the Continuum.

He tracked them beyond the expanse of the Empire and its billion worlds.

His mission took him beyond the center of the galaxy, into the dim reaches of its spiral arms.

He explored the starry fields, planet by planet, deep into the far reaches of the galaxy.

He spent thousands of lives in his search, and then thousands more.

He was heralded by the Collective for bringing new worlds into the Imperial fold.

It was a time of renaissance for the Empire.

Each world presented a feast of experiential data for the members of the Collective and the Continuum to consume.

Great dramas ensued as the Empire reached out to swallow every new discovery, every world with a living-thriving society and culture, forcing it to submit to the Imperial will, to adopt the Imperial religion and its way of life.

The Continuum and therefore the Empire, loathed distinctiveness.

The sublimation of each and every new world changed the Empire in small ways, but for each planet that was taken in, what had made them unique was eradicated, and if the resistance they offered was too great, their entire world would be destroyed, reduced to its raw materials and carted off as tribute to the Central Planet.

It was a time of glory.

The ancient-spacefaring people founded thousands of communities among the stars.

Their first steps were to inhabit the planets and natural satellites in their home solar system.

They mined every world for the metals and gasses they needed for fuel and sustenance.

They harnessed the comets and smaller objects that wandered in irregular orbits around their star.

They built colonies on asteroids, on planetoids and planetessimals, strapped engines to them, and road them into the void looking for new places to inhabit.

They built incredible archologies, launching them into the darkness of space.

Generation after generation, they built new ships, captured new vessels, and pushed themselves out.

The children of the ancients pushed far into the galaxy.

The people that volunteered for these missions, were explorers, whole communities and families of adventurers.

They were heroic.

Jim held them in the highest esteem, he wanted to emulate them, his ancestors.

He followed their legends, tracking the wake of their passage, searching for the farthest, most remote and isolated outposts of the Collective’s past.

He was determined to track down every link to the past that belonged to the Ancient People, believing that it could save them.

Only a fraction of the communities and vessels he discovered were still among the living, still maintaining themselves in thriving communities.

In his quest to track down the paths of the Ancient spacefarers he found many lines of their progeny on planets that had become nothing but graveyards.

They were barren and lifeless worlds, where it was clear that the vessels which had carried them arrived at these locations at a point when they could not go any further.

In some cases their ships were still orbiting a planet as an artificial satellite, in others it was clear that their orbits had decayed and they had crashed onto the surface below, or because they were not able to successfully pilot themselves to a safe landing they broke apart in their descent.

In some cases they found the bodies of those Ancient people cold and lifeless, mummified in their ships, drifting above the planet’s surface. In other cases they found their skeletal remains burnt and scattered on the surface of the planet near the impact zone.

There were many other occasions when the people had successfully landed, disembarked, established small colonies that thrived for a time, but then were destroyed, either by natural disasters, environmental catastrophes, disease and starvation.

Some of those colonies went on to establish new societies, spreading across the surface of their new homes. Many of those groups succumbed to internal conflicts, to the specter of war and violence that haunted their species, and they destroyed themselves.

Among those civilizations that found their footing for a time, some of them continued in the traditions of their forbears, even building new ships and new archologies, which they launched into the galaxy before they too became lost.

Though they were people who had vanished from the knowledge of the Collective, they left records of their passage and clues to where their survivors might yet be found.

Jim actualized all of his abilities, and all of the resources of the Empire, he found them.

He developed machines with instrumentation so fine, that he could track the contrail of particles laid down by the passage of a ship, or planetoid, a billion years in the past.

He calculated their trajectories from star to star and mapped the galaxy as he did so.

He tracked down every lost world, poured over their records, archived their stories, took whatever clues he found, and leapt back into the void to track down their descendants.

He found them all.

While he found other planets teaming with lifeforms that had been seeded by the Ancient people, nowhere did he find a world that had produced sentient creatures like the Ancients People.

The farther he travelled away from the Central Planet, when he came across a thriving world with a robust civilization, he discovered that the children of the Ancients People had lost the memory of where they had come from.

They had lost the knowledge of their trials on strange worlds.

They did not know how their sojourn among the stars had altered them, mutated them.

They had changed.

Many were hardly recognizable as descendants of the Ancient People.

The further their genetic profile was differentiated from the norms of the Empire, the more likely it would be that the Empire, or the Continuum would select their world for destruction, rather than inclusion in the Imperial system.

Wars of xenophobia ensued.

Jim did whatever he could to preserve their history before it was lost in the conflicts, or subsumed by the Imperial cults.

He established a network of secret societies wherever he went. They fostered rebellion and resistance to the grip of the Imperium.

Chapter Thirty-five, Discovery
His trek through the galaxy took place over hundreds of thousand of lifetimes.

Ten of millions of years—changing bodies, observing, discovering; during which he led the recovery project for the Empire, for the Collective and the Continuum.

The farther away from the Central Planet he journeyed, the more distance he put between his mission and the Empire, the more change he encountered in the populations he discovered.

Every society had to make adaptations to its genetic profile in order to accommodate the physical demands of the worlds they had colonized; gravity, foodstuffs and water, these were different in every world.

The children of the Ancients prepared themselves for this when they set off on their trek through the stars. They would identify the planets they intended to colonize long before their arrival, each planet having been previously seeded with the building blocks of organic matter, having demonstrated the strong potential for hosting life

Probes and drones would transmit reports regarding the composition of the atmosphere, the planet’s relative mass, light and heat, the types of food they would be able to grow. The explorers would have generations to prepare themselves, in-so-doing they introduced changes into their gene pool in advance of arriving at their destination, so as to accommodate their habitation of the new worlds.

The living planets would change the population on its own, after the colonization began.

The population of every colonized planet were mutants. Most of the mutations were subtle, not noticeable to the naked eye.

Some others were extreme.

The Empire followed, led by the Jim in one body or another, led by Jim who had come to be known as “The Observer.” The Empire followed either to bring the people into the Imperial fold, or to eradicate them.

Genetic mutations are a normal response to varying conditions of radiation, atmospheric gasses, gravity, available proteins, nutrients, and other environmental factors, all of which differ from world to world.

In his role as an Observer, Jim had sought permission from the Collective to bifurcate his consciousness, allowing him to live two lives at the same time, one as an embodied being leading the teams of archeologists, planetologists, and sociologists who were always busy cataloging the recently discovered civilizations that they were drawing into the Imperial fold, whether those civilizations were dead or alive; while his other consciousness remained active and present in the form of a mechanoid, hurtling through the galaxy tracking every lead he could discover to the paths the Children of the Ancients took.

The Continuum had been against this allowance, but once again it was overruled by the Collective, which was fascinated by the work he was doing in uncovering a history of the origins of the colonies, which the Collective thought of as their own.

The Collective eschewed the concerns for its safety and security that were raised by the Continuum. It felt it had nothing to worry about from Jim, so far removed from the HomeWorld and the Central System.

To a person, the Collective was fascinated by the process of discovery, for the wide range of insight and drama that ensued, for the narratives that were unraveled which fueled the stories they constructed for their private worlds.

The Observer followed the tiniest strands of every thread to the last outpost of the Ancient Explorers.

He followed those threads to a small, young, yellow star, in the far reaches of one of the galaxy’s spiral arms, to a little blue green planet that its people came to know as Earth.

Of all the mutations that had been discovered in his sojourn, the mutations that occurred on Earth were the most sublime.

Earth had produced something unique, a phenomenon that emerged from an interaction of the population with its magnetosphere, in the balance of metals and salts, of their tiniest nano-particles free flowing in the cerebral functions of the human brain, altering the quantum mechanics of the thought process, opening it to new possibilities.

The identity forming myths of a people persist in the roots and branches of shared experience.

It is the core of their sense of belonging to one another.

A people will naturally, instinctively go to incredible lengths to retain their memories.

Jim found the records of their journey, and traced it from planet to planet through the Milky Way.

He followed their history.

He discovered their odysseys retold in stories and song, in paintings and drawings that mirrored their sojourn among the stars.

The farther he travelled away from the Empire, the Central system and the HomeWorld, the less the people remembered about where they came from.

He discovered that the Children of the Ancients no-longer connected to their origins, everything about their past had become symbol and metaphor.

They were born in darkness, adrift in an ocean of time where planets were like skipping stones, glowing in the light of hungry stars.

A world was merely a way-place on a journey without end…until the end, when their vessels could no longer be repaired, retrofitted, repurposed, when they had no choice but to land, to set down roots and attempt to survive.

They met many different conditions. Sometimes they were prepared for what was coming, sometimes they were not.

On Earth, the humans were prepared for their landing, but not for what came after on the young geologically unstable world.

The end of Jim’s journey was Earth.

The Ancients who landed here had nowhere else to go.

Neither did the Observer once he found them, it was a homecoming.

They had journeyed farther and longer than any of the other explorers who had left the crèche of the Ancient Civilization.

Eons had passed since their probes had discovered Earth. They had exhausted all of their resources and found no other suitable destination.

They spent their fuel adjusting their course to take them there, knowing that generations would be born and die during the passage.

The reports from their probes informed them that they had found a planet teeming with life, successfully seeded by the ancient people in forgotten ages, life that would be easy to assimilate to.

They hoped to reestablish themselves here, on a mineral rich world that would provide them with all of the resources they would ever need to prepare themselves for their next great adventure.

Some wanted to return to the world of their birth.

Some wanted to continue their exploration and traverse the distance between galaxies.

Some wanted to plant roots, and build a new civilization on the wet-blue world that had become their haven.

The group believed that all things were possible when they landed

Jim followed, becoming human.

He found Earth and watched over its population.

He constructed the platform from which his consciousness would preside over the small gleaming planet, and the mechanism by which he could transfer his consciousness back and forth between this most remote of all locations and the Central Planet, where the Collective and its Continuum dwelt on the HomeWorld.

He felt a great sense of pride for having arrived at his final destination, he sense the esteem of the Collective flowing out toward him.

He gathered the requisite genetic material.

He studied it dispassionately.
He observed the planet’s living beings, probing their memories and drawing their stories from them.

He constructed a new body, implanting his consciousness in it; as Observers did in their stations throughout the galaxy, as he himself had done thousands upon thousands of times.

He was unprepared for this awakening.

Inhabiting a human body was unlike any experience the Observer ever had.

The flow of consciousness itself was different, it was exhilarating.

He was keenly attuned to the world around him, he sensed the people, the life force of the planet, the echoes of their thoughts pushing like waves against his.

He immersed himself in this new experience. It was akin to being in the Collective, only sweeter and more satisfying.

He discovered the nous-sphere.

It was an unprecedented moment of actualization.

In time and with careful study, the Observer was able to identify the physical links between human consciousness and the magnetosphere that comprised what he came to understand as the cynergenic field, the nous-sphere.

The human body, and the human brain, its primary organ of cognition, it carried a significantly higher degree of metallic nano-particles and conductive salts embedded in and throughout its neurological structures, a higher degree than any group that had evolved from the Ancient People.

The electrical activity that animates every living organism requires such metallic substances. Both voluntary and autonomic neural functions require these elements to transmit signals from the brain to the extremities, and also to receive signals from the sensory organs to the brain.

Cognition does not take place without these heavy metals in place, carrying the electrical currents that are the essence of thought.

What differentiated the humans of Earth from their forebears, and their cousins throughout the Empire, was the degree to which these metals were present, and the organization of them in their mutated cerebral cortex, but even more important was the way those structures interacted within the localized region of Earth’s magnetic field.

The nano-particles inside the human brain were like antennae, sending and receiving thought signals in the electromagnetic field, linking each person together in a web of consciousness.

It was cynergy, it was spirit.

The Observer began modifying his genetic profile to enhance the genetic sequence that optimized his conscious link to that field.

He searched for human children who developed the same genetic mutations naturally, he cultivated them.

He bred them.

He formed an organic collective.

It was the strength and frequency of Earth’s magnetosphere that created the conditions for the collective consciousness.

This cynergenic field was a profound discovery for the Observer, it was a natural manifestation of the artificial structure his people had created billions of years ago, and millions of light years away.

In all his travels he had never encountered anything remotely like it.

It embraced every human being on the planet, connecting them to one another, mind to mind.

It did much more, and the people of Earth were completely ignorant of it.

They felt the connection, but they did not have the tools to measure and understand it, not yet.

The uniqueness of Earth’s magnetic field had properties that even Jim did not discover. It not only connected each person to every other, but it recorded the activities of their consciousness.

Every human being left an indelible imprint in the field they occupied, the imprint remained active, even after death, where each person became manifest as a spiritual being, like ghosts walking the earth beside their progeny.

This was an organic form of the Collective, and somewhere less distinct, there was a rudimentary amalgamation of the Continuum as well. A collective unconscious, that moved people, influenced their choices, motivating them to act in concert with one another.

It was a unifying force.

There was something else about the uniqueness of this planet, and his discoveries, something that hearkened him back to the long lost and forgotten world of his birthday, the true home of the ancient people who constructed the Collective in the first place.

That world had long since been swallowed by its star, and there was no returning to it, but the more he pried into the mysteries of Earth, the more he became convinced that the Ancient People must have emerged on a planet with similar qualities.

He believed that without cynergism, their great civilization would have been impossible, the Ancient People might never have evolved into sentient beings.

Without the cynergenic field, the possibility of scientific discovery of the type necessary to drive people into the galaxy, to split the atom and to peer into the quantum-skein of tangled-string, it would have been impossible.

He had to protect his dicovery, this gave him a purpose beyond his purpose.
Emergence 4.0
Part Five, 92835670100561474

A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Four, Kathy; Chapters Twenty-two through Twenty-eight

Chapter Twenty-two, Childhood

From the moment she was born Kathy lived in two worlds: one, the world of her senses, of time and space; two, the larger world of memory.

Just beyond those two distinct modes of being there were forces that were always active in her consciousness. She was aware of the living presence of all of the other human beings around her, every single one.

Her memory spoke to her in words and visions, contextualizing everything she encountered, summarizing each new experience at the speed of light, faster than light. The operations of her mind could occur in no-time, nearing the transcendent.

Every smell, every touch, every sound was evocative.

The things she saw, the foods and drinks she tasted drew her out of herself and into another world.

As an infant she was often debilitated by the experience of new things. She would get stuck in the on-rush of memories, coming on her like a flood

She often found herself paralyzed and drifting, floating in-between worlds.

The voices came to her unbidden, they were the voices of her ancestors seeking to protect her, but they were more than that, they were more than a reconstruction of personalities from her ancestral memory. Through her unique consciousness her memories were connected to the real presence of her ancestors, of humanity, of actual people who were long dead and yet persisting in the cynergenic field of Earth.

The imprint of every person who ever lived was present in this field, the nous-sphere. Within this quantum field every person who had lived and died was present.

There were hidden places within her, deep places she would spend years discovering. This was not unique to Kathy, but she was uniquely able to access all the remote regions of her sub-conscious and unconscious mind, the deep dark well of her being.

There were languages that no person had spoken for thousands of years. She conversed in them with her ancestors.

There were memories of love, of pain and the promise of transcendence. She dwelt in them, rejoiced in them, and was lifted up by them.

Her memories were full of visions; visions of transformation, visions of her ancestors, of her own self always in a state of becoming.

Kathy took refuge there, entertained herself there, she relived the great dramas of the collective past, the stories that still lingered in the popular consciousness of her contemporaries, she peeled away the myths, the lies and the propaganda.

She discovered the bare stories, the prime narrative behind the world’s hero’s and god’s.

She spent even more time in the stories of the completely forgotten. In the memories of the farmer and the slave, the common soldier, the ordinary mother, among the artists and the craftsmen.

She learned.

She chose from among the people and figures of her memories, friends, caring people who could guide her through the processes of managing the incredible deluge that she was awash in.

Her internal mentors were not just figures from her ancestral past, they also had an active, conscious presence in the cynergenic field.

She chose protectors, good people, teachers, those were had experiences in life that were similar to her own.

Kathy’s memories came to her unbidden.

Memories populated her consciousness, suggesting themselves for her consideration, to frame her understanding of the events she was experiencing in real time.

In remembering she experienced a dialog with the ancestors within her, deciphering events, answering questions in an instant.

It was an atavistic process, happening faster than light speed, happening in no-time.

Kathy was particularly susceptible to sensory input.

When she encountered a new feeling or texture, smelled or tasted something she had not experienced before, saw or heard something that had been unknown to her, the forces within her brought to her mind everything she would ever need to know about it.

She was prone to getting lost in the faces of people she met for the first time, learning their names, fixing their identities.

The wheels within her would turn and turn over everything her long memory had to give her regarding all of the times she had encountered a person with those eyes, with that nose, with that name, or that tone in their voice.

This was always augmented by input from the psychic entities, the ghosts and spirits that hovered around her, the ancestors, all of the departed dead, the collective consciousness of humanity, past and present.

She was in constant dialog with them.

Kathy belonged to them and they to her.

Anything that was new was surreal to Kathy. The more unique the event, the more fascinated she was by it.

She was virtually incapable of being surprised, but it did happen from time to time, and when it did she was pleased, even overjoyed.

For her to witness something unprecedented was like watching a blurry movie, or an old TV off-axis, while the voices inside her attempted to shape her understanding of the event by providing context, offering comparisons, suggesting similes, complimenting it with knowledge.

Even things that were tragic and horrible, if they were unexpected and “one of kind” gave her something that she was missing, and she would observe those moments with a morbid, self-satisfying curiosity.

Searching out the new was like trying to grasp a handful of water, or a fistful of sand.

The thing or the moment she would reach for would slip between her fingers before she could hold it for any length of time.

Searching for a new experience, would cause her mind to construct in advance, ideas of what she would find. The closer she got to her goal, the closer her image of what she looking for became an image of expectation, and assumed the character of what she would discover.

In that game she was always several steps ahead of herself.

She was prescient.

Trying to find what was new in other people was the worst because she could sense them approaching, she could read their minds, she could become one with their thoughts, and once she knew them she could commune with the spirits of their dead. If she wanted, she could learn everything there was to know about them, and their past.

Kathy had to practice mindfulness at every moment, simply to keep her grounded and in the present. Learning this was the ultimate discipline, and it was the key to her sanity. She exercised her powerful mind to create buffers between herself and the world.

For Kathy, knowing things came unbidden. Details of particular points of knowledge filled her mind at quantum speed.

Languages, and codes opened themselves up to her, revealing their secrets. There was not an article of arcana which she could not decipher.

Her consciousness worked outside the boundaries of time and space. She did not have to ponder or search her memory for anything. She simply knew things.

The meanings of symbols, of histories, the patterns in music, beats and rhythms, these things populated her consciousness in no-time.

She could tell the stories of people, of human migration, stories that had never been written down. She knew where all the skeletons were buried.

Everything her senses encountered was filtered through a screen of the complete human experience.

What she did not have access to, from her own genetic line, she could find through the cynergenic field, communing with the dead in the nous-sphere.

Both the past and present were open, like a book, she could observe anything.

She could even peer into the minds of her contemporaries, see through their eyes, merging with them, becoming one with them in the confluence of their perceptions and feelings.

Kathy was the most powerful psychic the world had ever known. She was dangerous, and her value was without measure.

The opportunity to work with her was considered the greatest privilege in the scientific community, she was a closely guarded secret, those who had the opportunity to put a question to her were held in the highest esteem by their colleagues. Even though they would never have any direct contact with her, just the opportunity to address the Sibyl, which was her code name in the intelligence community was an indication that what you were working on was of the highest value.

It was prehension, Kathy’s intuitive comprehension came from a place within the mysteries of the atom, within the waves that make up the fabric of the subatomic field, from a place in which time and space are concepts without meaning, where there were trillions of points of light drawn into the concrescence of insight.

Her mind represented the fulcrum of all humanity, she was the full realization of its potential, and not just of humanity, of the Children of Earth, she was the fully actualized representation of the Ancient People.

Her coming was a thing that had been carefully prepared, by Jim, the Observer, for thousands of generations.

Her genetic code was the product of a careful breeding program, but there was more to his plans than merely producing a body with the latent atavistic capabilities he was searching for, which he needed for his campaign against the Continuum.

Jim also prepared her over thousands of lifetimes, to see him, to respond to him, to pick up on the subtle cues that would come from him through the genetic memory she would have access to.

He was preparing her in advance to be able to filter the collective consciousness of humanity, to draw what she needed from it at will.

Kathy would be to Earth’s organic collective what the Continuum was to the Collective on the HomeWorld.

Kathy played music and she loved it.

For Kathy, there was nothing more freeing than being lost in cloud of rhythm and melody, expressing her deepest feelings. The rest of the world could slip away, she could be alone.

There was not an instrument, or a rhythm, a tonal scale or a mechanism of timing which she did not master instantly. The mastering of them, unlike the mastery of ideas, did not require dialog with the ancestors within her, they were there of course, but in music their presence was non-verbal.

She sang, with perfect pitch.

She could identify any note, any chord. She could replicate them in her voice, or on any instrument.

She spoke in her own voice when she sang, all the while sensing the multitude within her, guiding her fingers, her brushes, bows, sticks, picks and tongue.

Kathy was the living repository of all human knowledge.

It was an incredible burden.

She shunned it, but in music she found this to be soothing, liberating.

The visitation of her memories, the voices of her ancestors, these were always present to her, putting pressure on Kathy to act and perform in specific ways.

They were present to her in the music she listened to and played as well, but in music she felt more as if she was coming home to them, rather than the voices inside of her reaching out to her.

Music was a homecoming to a place where there were no expectations.

Chapter Twenty-three, Prodigy

Kathy loved jokes. Humor was a relief to her and she was a funny child.

Comedy is the art of the unexpected and of the surprise, Kathy loved it when she could suspend disbelief for a moment, allowing herself to be taken at unawares.

It was a departure from her normal mode of being.

Her laughter was the first unusual thing that her parents noticed about her, a trait which distinguished her from other children, it alerted them to the fact that she was different, because her laughter was different, it was mature, knowing, it seemed to come from a place beyond the tiny physical body of an infant.

Even as a baby she picked up on the punch lines of jokes. She delighted in them in her infancy. The fed her spirit, they were like water to a thirsty woman. She understood the spoken words, the inferences that were made and shared between adults. She understood and could follow their exchanges months before she had learned to speak.

It was unnerving to anybody who witnessed it, therefore her sense of humor became one of the first expressive traits that Kathy learned to conceal, it was an act of social alienation and self-abnegation.

Laughter is like crying, it is a free and open mode of communication, it is non-verbal and honest.

Kathy had to deny herself that, she had to keep it in check.

The laughing person is vulnerable, and Kathy had to learn to hide that vulnerability, withdrawing inside herself, to share her mirth with her ancestors only, and the other ghosts lingering in the outer-world.

Kathy was as quiet as she was observant. She learned to watch and ask questions of the voices within her.

It was better this way, for her it was better.

She also took joy in the acquisition of knowledge, the analytical skills she was developing were more astute, but she also found that asking questions, the types of questions she asked set her parents and teachers on edge.

As a baby, she did not flit about randomly like infants and toddlers do. She was not easily distracted or delighted by the things that most babies are delighted by.

She was a strange child.

Her introspection was so extreme that in those first months of life her parents thought she might be developmentally disabled. They had no way of knowing that in those moments she was communing with the voices of her ancestors.

She was focused, balanced, and cautious. The evidence of her determinative spirit showed clearly through everything she did.

She repeated sounds and gestures in patterns that quickly became noticeable to her parents. The subtleties of her personality, the things they had thought were the ticks of autism, were in fact her measured and purposeful quest to learn.

Kathy was motivated by a deep desire to communicate, to be understood.

While she had the cognitive ability to speak, nearly from the day she was born, she did not have the motor skills to form words, those took time to develop.

She trained herself, quickening the pace by which she would learn to walk, and talk, and she would not be stopped.

Her parents had no desire to get in her way.

In the days when they were still figuring out what their child was doing, if they were to interrupt her or try to redirect her, they would see the flash of anger in her eyes.

This was not the helpless rage of an infant wailing.

It was the anger of a fully formed person who would not be deterred from her path.

She was a frightening child.

Her parents were concerned for her wellbeing and her safety, both.

Kathy was crawling within weeks of being born, and walking within a few short months. In her private moments she was flexing her muscles, gaining strength, and tuning her body to obey her thoughts.

The voices within her guided her. Through repetition and diligence, she gained control of her limbs, she developed dexterity, and coordination.

By her first birthday she was dancing.

Kathy practiced and practiced in the quiet moments of her day.

At night, in the dark, while her parents slept.

She did not speak a word until she was speaking in complete sentences. Her vocal muscles were the most difficult to master.

She practiced her breathing, she spoke to herself when she thought no one was watching.

She listened to the conversations happening all around her, the dialog without and within.

She knew that her parents were concerned about her.

Every person they ever brought to meet her told them how strange she was. Kathy tried to make things easier on them, but she was not always able to hide the things that she was doing, and she could not control her feelings.

The glands that produced the hormones and chemicals which formed the wetwork of the human emotional spectrum, they required a much greater level of discipline and measures of time to control.

The direction for her exercises came from deep within herself. From her ancestors, and from her intimate link to the cynergenic field.

In the nous-sphere Kathy communed with those who were not directly linked to her heredity. She was connected to the assembled masters of every tradition, they instructed her in physical disciplines, martial disciplines, cognitive disciplines, the full scope of human knowledge was accessible to her. They guided her and focused her, kept her calm, allowing her to see her own life and experiences in the context of the collective experiences swelling within her.

She discovered a sense of belonging in the world through the interior of her mind.

She formed plans spontaneously, in order to realize her goals, her powerful mind operating beyond the limits of time and space, and then she had to slow everything down, to allow her body time to make the adjustments she was preparing it for.

It was excruciating, she wanted nothing more than to allow her mind to drift away, to leave the cares of the flesh behind, but when she felt that way, the chorus would rise within her, reminding her that she had a purpose to fulfill.

She had to prepare, be quiet, discreet, not draw attention to herself she developed her physical strength, and the strength of her mind.

She took pride in her accomplishments, they were a source of great esteem.

Kathy could shut the outside world off and retreat into the recesses of her interior life, But she could not escape from the voices within, they were always with her. She might ignore them for a time, but she could not depart from them, and even if she died, she knew that she would remain with them, as with all people, a shadow of herself imprinted on the cynergenic field.

Kathy followed the path of discipline, to protect herself from the world and from what was inside her, both.

Whatever her parents tried to teach her, Kathy took to with ease, despite the moment by moment challenges she endured in dealing with her atavistic connection to the past.

Nevertheless she was still a child, she had ordinary instincts, she wanted to belong to her parents, and for them to belong to her.

She wanted to please them, make them smile, watch them laugh. She did not like it when the things she said or did, or did not do, disturbed them.

Kathy mastered complex tasks without effort.
She had to learn, to pretend to learn from her parents and the adults around her.

This was one of the things that put her parents at ease. It was often the case that they would propose to show her how to do something, like tie her shoes, and she would just do it without thinking because the voices within her supplied her with the method.

This unnerved her parents, she had to learn to slow down and hide these things, even pretend to make mistakes so that they could correct her.

This was an exercise in conformity.

She struggled with the skill of blending in, with hiding her differences.

Her parents came to accept the fact that Kathy was pretending. They could tell because she was not good at it, and also because she would almost always shift to a pattern of action that was better, more efficient, quicker, more streamlined than what they had taught her.

For Kathy to get along she learned to be silent, to listen, to wait, to let the others fail. She had to be content that she knew the answers and had to resist the temptation to seek the reward of praise.

She practiced quietude.

She would not assert herself. She did everything she could to divert attention, seeking only the private recognition of her teachers.

She could not insert herself into the activities of her peers (she had none), she could not correct them, or provide the right answer to problems that were proposed in public settings to her classmates.

She learned to experience success as a personal matter, only harkening to the applause that came from within.

She turned in flawless work.

She reacted negatively to her teachers when they tried to highlight her talents, her knowledge and skills.

This was difficult for her.

Like any child she loved praise, and she had to force herself to eschew it.

More than praise from her teachers, she wanted friends

The other children in class with her, did not like her, they did not like the way she looked at them, or the way she looked through them.

They knew intuitively that she was beyond them

She was alien.

Kathy was unique.

She felt other.

She was different from every human being on the planet, different from all who had ever been.

She embodied the full scope of human potential and its actual realization in time.

She was unique in all the universe, she was born that way.

She was still young when she realized the differences that distinguished her from everyone else she had ever met. She had known empirically that this was the case. Her ancestors within her had said as much, and that estimation was confirmed by the voices of the entities she encountered in the nous-sphere, in Earth’s cynergenic field. Nevertheless, Kathy succumbed to a basic human tendency, which was to assume that the people she encountered were like her, that they shared a common point of view or perspective on the things and events they were witnessing.

Understanding her differences did not help her manage her feelings, or those of anyone else. She had difficulties.

She knew that it was not her responsibility to control what other people felt. Whether they choose to be in a relationship with her, like her teachers, or whether, like her parents, the role had been thrust on them.

People were afraid of her.

They either wanted to run away from her, or to exploit her.

Some people simply wanted to examine her, run experiments on her as if she was a laboratory animal.

Her parents were afraid of her, and afraid for her.

They were simultaneously proud of her, and ashamed that they had brought her into the world.

The people who cared for her knew that she suffered, but they could do little about it, some tried to comfort her, most did so only as a convenience to themselves.

Chapter Twenty-four, Adolescence
Kathy was angry all the time.

She was angry with herself, she was angry with her teachers and handlers, she was angry with the voices of her ancestors that tried to soothe her from within, and she was angry at the presence of those persons she encountered in the cynergenic field, who were always seeking to intrude on her thoughts.

Kathy understood the things she was going through, the physical transformations of adolescence, but like much of her knowledge, her comprehension of it was abstract. It was disconnected from her actual experience.

Understanding had little power to quell the rank emotions rising within her body, the chemical miasma fuming inside her, which were the same as in any youth.

In the abstract she understood what was happening, she regularly employed the techniques her ancestors had taught her, so she could control herself and reduce the burden she placed on others.

Though she regularly did this, she did not always do it, and when the mood struck her she would lash out at the people who were closest to her.

She might invade their psyche, steal their secrets, expose their fears, and brutalize them.

She was not pleasant to be around, her proctors, teachers, and handlers always approached her with caution.

As a child Kathy was composed, especially around strangers, in public, in social settings. She carried herself with confidence and intentionality. As a small child Kathy always acted with poise and purpose. This unnerved her parents, but as she grew older they came to rely on it, believing that it was key to her safety and to theirs..

There was not a person who observed her in these settings that did not mark her affect as unusual. Most people were delighted in the strange unusually confident child.

A few, those who were more observant, they were disturbed by it.

Kathy was beset by fears, not just for herself, but for her parents as well. The poise that she exuded was just a mask. She could keep it up for hours, even days if needed, but it was a ploy to hide the raging doubt inside of her.

As she matured, when in public she became paralyzed by insecurity, she would freeze, become silent, and withdraw into herself.

Am I insane, she thought, who am I, am I alone, why am I alone, how can it be that there is no-one else like me anywhere in the world?

The answers she gleaned shook her to the core. They confirmed for her that she was, in fact, alone.

Unique.

There had never been another like her.

She searched her ancestral memories for evidence of the contrary, but she could find nothing, the voices grew silent.

She searched the cynergenic field for someone who could help her, and again there was nothing, or next to nothing.

There was only a vague impression of a teacher, a priest, a shaman, a person who had guided her ancestors in the distant past, but they were not present to her now.

Kathy’s life was a series of disturbances.

Her parents did whatever they could to help her, bringing in tutors, sending her to special schools. They desperately searched for a place, an institution, a person, who could find a way to reach Kathy, to relate to her, to give some form of comfort and understanding.

Between the ages of nine and fifteen her family moved a dozen times.

The moved over and over again. They sold everything they had, and they burned through all of their savings, every last bit of their family’s money. They exhausted themselves in the search for a solution.

The only comforts they could really give her were material ones; food, water, shelter. They were unable to adjust to her intellectual and emotional demands.

Kathy knew what her parents were doing for her. She tried to cooperate, and she had good moments. Nevertheless, when she was feeling pained, or lonely, when she felt like an alien in her own world, out of frustration and deep resentment she lashed out at her teachers.

She mocked them without mercy, she ridiculed them, she alienated everyone who came in contact with her.

She had no place of belonging.

She used her gifts to reveal their greatest insecurities and she exploited them, her intentions were not to profit from them, but merely to drive them away, to protect herself and her family from their ambitions.

With every new failure at building a relationship with her teachers and proctors, Kathy grew increasingly despondent.

She felt the despair of her parents and it was magnified in her.

She listened to the voices within her, most of which beseeched her to be calm, remain strong.

She also listened to the voices that encouraged her to flee.

Kathy burned with rage. She was consumed by a hatred for the world, by self-loathing, and by the intrusive voices coming to her from the nous-sphere.

She did not find relief in the comfort of her memories.

Kathy did not want to be calm, she did not want to be strong.

Her contempt for everyone she came in contact with lit a fire deep in her belly. There was no talking it away.

She felt like an alien, she began to refer to other people as “the humans,” as if she were not one of them. She focused on every little bit of difference between her and the people she met. She allowed the power of her mind, her intellect, her knowledge to roll over people like a thresher, cutting them to pieces.

There was no therapeutic approach to help her mitigate those feelings.

She felt guilty.

In order to cope, she turned the heat and violence of her anger inward, focusing all of that energy on herself.

It gave her no relief.

She isolated herself. She took refuge in music, in movies, in books. She spurned the reflexive desire to augment her experiences by consuming media in consultation with the voices within her. She did not go to them for insight or discovery. She allowed her media habits to be filled only with the most contemporary materials.

In time Kathy learned to separate herself from her emotions. They would have killed her had she not.

The body is the servant of the mind, and as with all complicated machines it requires diagnostics and maintenance.

She discovered the methods by which she could commune with her physical form.

She listened to it.

Her body spoke to her.

She exercised it, mastering every muscle, every gland.

She gave it the attention it needed, sustenance, and nutrition, whatever her body required to be balanced.

She took control of herself and found refuge in discipline.

She found peace in meditations that took her outside of her body.

With an ability that no human being ever had before, she entered the cynergenic field, creating a distance from the structured, chemically sequenced emotions of her body.

She was guided in this by the ascended masters dwelling within her, and with those dwelling near to her in the nous-sphere.

Kathy discovered the ontological reality she shared with every living being on the planet.

She discovered that they were united, in spite of her feeling of alienation she learned to adjust to this reality.

They were one.

Understanding her essential humanity gave her a great feeling of esteem.

Kathy spent the energy of youth learning to master her thoughts and feelings, just so that she could get along in the world

She needed a place to escape.

Kathy found escape in the real world. The circle had become complete. The past, she found, could be more oppressive than the present,

She discovered the supreme distraction in the passions of her body.

In self-pleasure, and sexual coupling she was able to forget herself, forget the world around her in the uncritical-careless delights of sexual gratification.

She lost herself in the attraction she felt for beautiful people, in the present moment, in the desires that were most immediate to her senses.

She could linger for hours, in the scent and taste of a lover.

Physical love was timeless. It concentrated all her attention in the now.

The present moment was everything, she became lost in it.

Kathy found momentary peace, she found a temporary release and she found freedom in the orgasm.

The energy of a sexual climax delivered her to a place beyond space and time, removing her (temporarily) from the cynergenic field.

The world around her paused, she became weightless and all the concerns she had for herself, for others. All of the demands that the world placed on her, demands of fear, the demands of hope, all of those expectations melted away.

The universe contracted in that moment, as did her psychic connection to humanity, in that instant, she could go anywhere, be nowhere.

It was the pinnacle as if she had arrived at the peak of the human experience and stepped off into nothing.

From her first time with her first lover, to the last person she took into her bed; it was the same, she cherished those moments.

In that release there was silence, a quietude that none of her teachers could fathom, she likened it to the experience her ancestor Gottama had, while meditating under the banyan tree.

There was a temptation to remain there, to stay in that magic place, to elongate it, to leave the world forever.

She flirted with the notion, but never seriously.

Without exception, the people she brought to her bed were unnerved by the experience of watching her.

Her sexuality shook them.

Some were traumatized by it, the greater their sensitivity to psychic phenomenon, the more empathic they were, the more they struggled in that moment, there was the danger that Kathy would drag them into that space, and they would disappear.

Chapter Twenty-five, Abnormal

When Kathy was five years old, instead of beginning kindergarten, Kathy’s parents placed her in private tutelage.

They looked at dozens of schools, public programs, private institutions, schools that were religiously affiliated, and they did not encounter a single program that they felt like they could trust.

In most cases they could tell within seconds or minutes that the administrators saw exposure to Kathy as something they could exploit.

They kept looking.

They took these step because they were continuously unnerved by Kathy’s mannerisms. The things she said and did, the things she knew, the profound abilities of her powerful intellect, that differentiated her from everyone, not just children her age.

They were afraid of her, and they feared for her.

They did not want Kathy to grow up in the face of other people’s fear. They felt it would warp her, possibly turn her into a guarded and hateful person.

They were desperate to help her, and eager to be released from their parental obligations. They could not face the idea of simply home-schooling her. They themselves needed a break from managing her day to day, hour by hour. They also knew that they did not have the skills to guide her.

They sought private tutors to help them, professionals under a variety of disciplines.
Every tutor Kathy’s parents brought in to teach her manifested predictable and disturbing patterns.

Tutors, psychologists, scholars; her parents contracted with people inside and outside of the educational system; scientists, doctors, specialists in human behavior.

They exhausted their resources doing it.

Without exception the behaviors and interactions that each of them had with Kathy filled her parents with dread, and Kathy with a cynical unease.

At first they were delighted. Would be welcoming in their initial encounters, and she would tease them with the things they wanted to know.

They would come back to Kathy’s parents at the end of the day, glassy eyed, and wondering at the genius of their child, going on and on about her potential, and her unique gifts

As the days went on they became fearful, scared. Those same gifts that had delighted them just days earlier, unnerved them with continuing exposure.

If Kathy wanted to get rid of them, she would attack them. She would misuse her psychic gifts by exploiting their fears and weaknesses, by exposing their deepest secrets.

This drove most of them away.

Those who stayed did so either because they had stalwart character, or because they were shameless, seeing in Kathy someone who they could build a career on.

They tested her, and wrote about her.

The shameless sought to use her for their own benefit, believing she would be a source of fame and wealth.

The altruistic among them were convinced that the fate of the world hinged on learning her secrets.

Kathy’s private education was a bitter disappointment. Her parents quickly learned that they must put non-disclosure agreements in place with everyone who came in contact with Kathy, after which they were constantly occupied with the legal action to enforce them.

By her tenth birthday, Kathy’s parents decided to forego tutors. They had proven to be of little help to her or them.

They put her in the care of doctors and clergy, people from institutions which they believed had a broader commitment to supernal values, to doing good for the sake of doing good. They told themselves that this would protect Kathy from the meanness of the world.

They placed Kathy completely in their care, entrusting them to guard and educate her. With that they withdrew.

They finally found the release they were looking for. They took what savings they had left and moved as far away as possible. They had no more desire to be a part of the decision making processes for their daughter.

They were confident her needs would be looked after, she would be nourished and sheltered, they had done what they could.

They gave up.

Kathy was alone now, sequestered.

She was not an orphan, she was just a child with no parents.

She was overwhelming sad at the absence of the only people who had ever loved her.

She was despondent.

She had no sense of belonging.

Kathy withdrew into herself and patiently endured being an object of fascination.

The people who took over Kathy’s care were good people, by and large. It had taken years for them to identify just who among the dozens of tutors and doctors they had consulted with, could be trusted to look out for Kathy’s interests, instead of their own.

Kathy’s imprimatur was key to the selection process. She knew that her parents were preparing to leave her, she understood their motivations.

This made her sad, made her angry, but she understood.

She used her abilities to narrow their choices, and to affirm them

Then she said goodbye to them.

It took a great deal of time for Kathy’s proctors, her selected panel of advisors to find an institution for her. She knew what motivated them as well. Their self-interest was apparent, but it was not a dominant factor in their search, or their decision making.

For the most part, they merely wanted to discharge their responsibility to Kathy in an expeditious manner.

When they found a place for her, they told her it was a home for prodigies, gifted youngsters.

They believed it, for the most part, even though they knew the truth, they knew that the home was a front for the National Security Establishment.

They also knew it was safe

It was the safest place they could possibly imagine, but those who had been entrusted to help Kathy, had betrayed her, and to some degree her parents knew it.

Kathy accepted it all, just as they voices within her moved her to do.

Kathy read, she listened, she watched.

She was the most astute observer any of her teachers had ever seen.

She engaged all of her senses in the act of probing her memories. She brought to life the most-minute details of her ancestral experience.

She learned to remember the events she probed more accurately than the original participants could see it for themselves,

She was able to triangulate her recall of a specific moment, seeing it, from the perspective of multiple observers. She learned to penetrate their memories and their internal reflections, to separate those reflections as they changed over time.

She studied and took tests, at the same time she was tested, probed, and examined by her proctors. They were continually seeking the limits of her knowledge, and developing theories as to how it was stored, what part of her psyche gave her access to it.

They used her as an experiment.

As a child she was periodically in a position where she did know what was going on, at times she just wanted to let things happen, she did not want answers as to why it was happening.

There were many occasions when she was unaware of what was transpiring, but she learned to see patterns, to dwell in them.

She preferred to think of things in terms of patterns, to depersonalize them rather than seek the individual motives of the people she was interacting with.

Kathy learned to cope, she was alone in the world without family or friends. She had teachers, and handlers, some were nice to her, most possessed a calculated indifference.

They held her in high esteem, they were proud of the work they did with her.

Kathy’s handlers had never considered the concept of an “ordinary psychic.” They were the foremost experts in all things paranormal, and supernatural.

Genuine telepaths were exceedingly rare, but they existed, and when they were discovered every effort was made to bring them into the fold of the national security apparatus so that their talents could be used for the benefit of the government.

They were coerced if they would not come voluntarily.

In the later 20th century their abilities were tested, analyzed, put to use by spy agencies and police forces around the world. Genuine psychics were considered to be among the most vital assets of the state.

They could be very difficult to find. Given the nature of their abilities they were able to see dangers approaching from a long way away.

Most of the world’s psychics were mentally, emotionally and psychologically unstable.

The line between psychic abilities and psychosis was very thin. Schizophrenia and madness were common features among the gifted.

Psychic abilities of any degree were extraordinary.

Kathy’s gifts required a completely different understanding of the range of possibilities.

Every aspect of her life was studied in its most minute detail. With the greatest scrutiny being given to her genetic profile.

Her eggs were harvested, and she was cloned.

Kathy was the most significant subject of scientific inquiry that the world knew nothing about.

Kathy’s moods normalized as she grew older, she adjusted to the reality of her differences.

Even though she had always understood, objectively, that she was unique, that she was a different kind of human than had ever walked the earth, she had resisted this.

She did not want to embrace it.

She was not homo sapient sapient, she was homo sapient ancestral, she was human potential, fully realized.

She was not only self-aware, she carried within her the full awareness of her ancestors.

She found resources in her memory to guide her in the development of self-control.

She quietly disciplined herself to the measures that her ancestors desired her to take, she did this in the field of consciousness where time was meaningless.

She did it in no-time.

As she learned to control her feelings and her moods, she learned to do many other things as well.

She disciplined herself to the practical tasks that she was always being asked to perform by her handlers.

Her gift for analyzing data grew exponentially.

Institutions formed around her, think-tanks devoted themselves to studying her, access to her was more valuable to national intelligence than access to the fastest super-computer.

Her existence was among the most closely held secrets in the government, only the National Security Council had an inkling of the full range of her capabilities.

Chapter Twenty-six, Adulthood
Kathy was longing for a place in the world.

As she advanced in her skills and gained control of her powers, Kathy’s sensitivity to the motives of those around her became profound.

The intentions of the analysts who questioned her were an open book. She had to develop new skills, the ability to buffer, to keep herself from prying into the lives of anyone she was near.

She was starving for companionship, for friendship but she could not find it anywhere.

She did not want to know about the private lives of every person that she met, their fears, their hopes, their anxieties, and their lusts.

Those things were disturbing to Kathy, she did not want any part of them.

She reported on how easy it was for her to read anyone she spoke to. She did not tell them that she could read people from miles away, or on the other side of the world, anyone could be read if she concentrated.

She told them the types of things they wanted to hear about her abilities.

She told them just enough to give them the feeling that they could control their encounters with her.

Millions of dollars were spent to mask the thoughts and intentions of the people who had to interact with Kathy on a daily basis.

Even though these efforts were mostly connected to secrecy and national security, they were also meant to foster in Kathy a sense of belonging, and community, which they did with ever increasing difficulty.

Kathy felt the artificiality of her life, some days it weighed on her heavily, though when she was busy she hardly noticed.

In her work place, every little detail of her environment was contrived, scripted, fake. The lighting, the view, the temperature, the sounds and smells, her handlers put everything in place like they were scripting a television show.

Their aim was to keep Kathy passive, and somewhat distracted.

No effort was spared to engender within Kathy feelings of safety and love, the sense that she was valued.

They would introduce something into her environment, a painting, a vase, a lamp, then they would measure its effect on her output, her vital signs and expressions of her well-being, both voluntary and involuntary.

Kathy saw through all of the contrivances made on her behalf. At the same time, she appreciated the sentiments behind them, as artificial as they were. She accepted those things and pretended to accept them as genuine.

She was able to maintain that peaceful coexistence with her handlers for many years, into her young-adulthood. In that time she wanted to believe that the people she met had good intentions.

Over time however, all the false fronts vanished.

Kathy became cynical.

As she grew older her cynicism did not cause her to lash out.

She remained quiet and focused.

She preferred, as all cynics and pessimists do, to think of herself as a realist.

She stopped wanting to believe that people had her best intentions in mind, she did not want their kindness or sympathy even when it was genuine. She knew that she was an asset, merely a tool, and an unceasing object of fascination.

Analysts came to see her nearly every day. They brought their tests with them, they brought their questions, they brought their problems to be solved.

They brought her work.

Sundays were Kathy’s only regular time of respite, a day of reflection and a time to lose herself in the past.

Kathy listened to them, and while she did she looked into their consciousness, she explored their hearts and minds, their history.

She would privately decide on who she would help and who she would not. She did not express those decisions overtly, but every analyst who could not get resolution from Kathy on the project they were working was relieved of their duties and diligently examined.

Everyone who came in contact with Kathy was profiled exhaustivly, analyzing the analysts that who came in contact with her became a cottage industry in the intelligence community.

She read their papers, watched their films, and when they put questions to her, she shared her insight from the depths of her memory.

If she liked them then, she led them to the resolution they were seeking.

If she did not like them, their projects lingered, unfulfilled.

She read ancient languages, interpreted obscure symbols, and saw the patterns in everything.

Her handlers eventually learned what type of person they could present to Kathy, the type of people that would elicit a positive response from her, people she would help without coercion.

Kathy would not be coerced to do anything.

Kathy loved problem solving. She was making her career out of it.

She loved complex tasks, and she delighted in the resolution of new challenges.

She sought them out.

She took joy in creative and critical thinking. If her work was helpful to people, it pleased her.

Problem solving gave her a sense of purpose, that is where she found her place in the world and felt most as if she belonged to something.

In the cases she was presented, in the analysis she was asked to give, the greater the complexity and length of time for the project, the better it was for her.

She preferred challenges for which the answers did not just spring from her memories straight into her mind.

This was rare, the challenges facing human government, medicine, war, espionage, might feel new to most people encountering them, but they were not new to the human experience.

She was fascinated by encountering new things, new ideas, for this reason she devoted her private time to the study of the atom, to physics, astrophysics, and quantum physics.

Kathy quietly and privately wrote groundbreaking papers, this was an incredible source of pride and self-esteem for her.

Without being fully aware of the influence of her work, Kathy was generating research that rippled out through the global economy.

Access to Kathy was sought after by every think tank, causing the National Security Administration worked tirelessly to keep her identity a secret.

In order to maintain their own secrecy, her handlers deliberately narrowed Kathy’s focus, restricting the scope of her involvement in matters pertaining to national security.

They would parcel out questions for her in the hope that she might not see the patterns over longer periods of time.

They sought her understanding of minute details, doing everything they could to limit the information that she could glean from them about what their real concerns were

They were concerned that if she was ever discovered and captured, it could do irreparable harm to the country.

Kathy never revealed to them how easy it was for her to penetrate their thoughts.

She kept her own secrets, she held them closely, and she led her handlers down false paths to keep them in the dark about what the range of her abilities were.

If they would have known, they might have been comforted, or they might have killed her, something that many people at the National Security Council wanted to do.

She kept her full abilities masked.

She worked hard, and she produced data for the people that came to her, she offered expert analysis, and from time to time she took proactive measures to prevent a catastrophe from developing.

Her handlers were content to utilize her abilities infrequently, but on significant matters, having discovered that the more often they involved her in minutia, the more and more she was inclined to go out into the world and expose herself for who she really was.

Religious conflicts began to shape the later 20th, and the early 21st centuries. Kathy’s input regarding the origins of these conflicts was invaluable.

Current events had to be understood in their historical context, because tribal history continued to move its people long after the members had forgotten the particular details of a broken promise, an injustice, or a blood feud.

Kathy’s ability to pinpoint the specific moments in time that were the antecedents of those tribal conflict was uncanny. If she could not reach the understanding through her own ancestral memories, she could commune with the spirits of the dead, she could pull the insight she needed from the cynergenic field, the nous-sphere.

Her memory produced volumes of insight for her handlers, but questions along those lines left her deeply disturbed. It caused her to dread the entire human race, the vile antipathy people held toward one another, and how easy it was for the bucolic life of a farmer, or a herdsman to become twisted by greed and drive them toward the calamities of war. It was a weight she could not ignore.

The human psyche was incredibly easy to manipulate. People were supple, pliable, soft and reducible.

Human beings had a vast capacity for self-delusion, and a profound willingness to be complicit in it.

In the midst of research Kathy often felt the instinct to flee, to run away from everything, and to never return.

Just as she had been abandoned by her parents, Kathy wanted to abandon the world.

She desperately wanted to be alone.

She knew there was no being alone, death was merely a transition to another state of being, not an opportunity to escape.

The intelligence operatives stopped visiting Kathy in person, they engaged her by proxy and through handlers.

They did not want to expose themselves to Kathy’s penetrating psychic insight. They took every measure they could to conceal their motives. They only wanted the answers to their questions, they did not want any reflection from Kathy about the projects they were working on, the reasons why they needed their questions asked.

They submitted questions in writing.

They used a long chain of couriers to deliver the contents of their inquiries, and from which they receive their answers. Everyone who came in contact with her was watched.

The multiple degrees of separation proved to be a valuable tool. It eased the fears of the security establishment that Kathy would glean too much information from their agents and analysts if they were exposed to her directly.

Kathy received her assignments. She in turn wrote papers giving details and context in response to the questions they submitted. She deciphered code, sometimes ancient script, offered geopolitical analysis, identified covert agents, pointed out weaknesses in their own security.

Oftentimes she did not answer questions directly, she supported their work by helping them to ask better questions.

This frustrated her handlers at times, but Kathy was not being coy. They often brought questions to her that they already possessed the ability to answer. Kathy did not want to be responsible for a weakening of the intelligence and security apparatus, she wanted it to excel through her engagement with it.

She wanted to assist with the escalation of its full potential, to see it realized in her time, because for all the faults of humanity and her own government, she felt it difficult not to be patriotic, and she believed hat the American institutions of democratic government, liberal and progressive, was the only hope the world had to lift itself out of the age of conflict.

Like any other human being, she wanted her work to matter.

Chapter Twenty-seven, Isolated

Kathy journeyed inside herself, reliving lifetimes through her memories.

She experienced the lives of her ancestors in quantum time, which was not time at all, it was outside of time, it was no-time.

In that mysterious space she communed with her ancestors and under their tutelage she mastered all of the disciplines she required to control her abilities, learning from them a way that allowed her to function in society.

She wanted to be a normal person, to experience normal things, to feel the weather, or human touch, to see the beauty of the world and of humanity, to listen to music, and the sounds of the city, to smell flowers and food cooking, and the bodies of her lovers.

She wanted those things for herself, she wanted more than to just relive them through her intimate connection to the past.

She developed austere habits and disciplines in order to possess muscle control, discernment and patience.

She developed the ability to flesh out the memories she wandered in, to experience them for herself as if she were truly living in them.

There was no path too remote for her to follow.

She took up the plastic arts, she drew and painted, she sculpted.

She took the time to recreate the visions of her ancestors, and to capture through various media, her own unique experience.

Of all the “normal” things that people occupied themselves with, the ordinary pleasantries and little things that filled up their days and nights, music was the most difficult thing for Kathy to endure.

There were new generations of performers emerging all the time.

Every year brought new waves of artists writing songs, and making hits. Vocal styles changed, tonal styles changed, the content of lyrics and the popularity of certain instruments changed, but only within a narrow range.

The rhythm and the beats, the timing of the drums changed even less over time.

If Kathy was careless a melody could cause her to slip, without knowing, into another lifetime. She would fall into her memories, slipping away from the present in ways that were dangerous to her

A beating drum told a hundred thousand stories; they told of the hunt and the harvest, of conflict and the march to war, of years toiling in servitude pushing through the field and pulling at the oar.

Kathy loved music, she would use it for all of those purposes, but her susceptibility to it made it dangerous to her.

It was an area of weakness.

Her handlers knew this.

They had observed the effects of music and other sensory stimulants on her, enough for them to see the patterns, learning enough about Kathy’s relationship to certain stimuli that they could use it to manipulate her.

When Kathy danced she moved without thinking.

Dancing was auto-hypnotic. She lost herself in the drums and rhythms.

She abandoned time in movement, in the moments flowing from the present to past ages.

She relived the steps of her ancestors, felt their feelings, both their fears and their hopes for the future.

Dance was a place of transcendence.

When she was dancing she was not fully engaged with the present world, the psychic noise and the din of chaos slipped away, the cares of the world disappeared, and she was vulnerable.

Kathy experienced this same phenomenon in many ways, but what made dancing different for Kathy was that while dancing she did not succumb to the temptation to retreat into no-time.

She hovered in between the world of the present moment, and the world of her ancestors, simultaneously connected to each.

With her body in motion, she could not fully disengage from the world around her, and at the same instant she was connected to both the world of her memories and the collective consciousness that joined her to the entirety of humanity.

Dancing was freedom.

Dancing was the ultimate expression of who she was, of her uniqueness as a human being.

Kathy danced for the joy of it.

Eating was a necessity, there were many days when she wished she could dispense with her diet altogether.

The rituals of cooking, the textures of food, brought her to places she did not want to dwell in. Not that the memories were unpleasant, that was not necessarily so, but she could not avoid the nexus of memories those activities brought her to.

What bothered Kathy was the lack of control.

Flavors and odors haunted her, they hovered around and clung to her like ghosts.

Taste and smell could transported her instantly to past times and past ages, placing her unbidden,
into a kind fuge, one she should not escape from.

Kathy found solace in the bland, comfort in modern processed foods, foods that were completely new and entirely foreign to human experience.

She did not want to mix anything in a bowl, stir something in a pot, engage in knife work, or butchery.

Even the smell of baking bread, so pleasing and comforting to almost every person in the world, even that was troublesome for Kathy.

Eating was a necessity.

Kathy consumed most of her calories like an astronaut, sucking it out of packages that did not require any processing.

Nevertheless, of all the foods and drinks she imbibed, the most pleasing thing to her was coffee.

After years of working with Kathy, her handlers came to an appreciation of how dangerous it could be to interact with her directly regarding the nations secrets.

She could penetrate the minds of anyone who came in contact with her. This happened without effort in regard to those who near to her, either close to her emotionally, or proximate to her in space. The content of their thoughts might pass through her as if she were sifting fine particles from the air.

In spite of her generalized feelings of alienation from society, the empirical fact of her interconnectedness to other human beings spoke to her of her belonging.

She was one with humanity as they were with her. The thought comforted her.

Her handlers determined to engage her at a distance. The efforts they took in this regard had a positive impact on Kathy’s life. Everything about her circumstances was completely contrived, this much she knew. They represented the efforts her handlers took to allow her to live a semblance of a normal life.

There were some in the security establishment who argued that she should be killed, that she was too dangerous, and that it was too costly to keep her in the world.

There were powers at the top of the hierarchy who would not hear these recommendations, they argued two things; first, that Kathy was the most prodigious problem solver and analyst the world had ever seen; and second, that they needed to study every aspect of her abilities so that they could document the full range of human potential

Kathy was placed in a small-private college, she did research, and wrote.

She became an academic.

It was a comfortable environment, quaint, aesthetic.

Her work was recognized and this filled with pride. She enjoyed the esteem of her colleagues.

Her handlers thought that distance, and noise were the keys to protecting their secrets, believing that the more people they placed between Kathy and themselves the more likely it would be that they could shield their intentions and motivations from her

They were wrong, there were few limits to Kathy’s abilities.

Out of an innate drive for self-preservation, Kathy developed the ability to ward off psychic intrusions.

She built mental walls to ensure her privacy, to keep the thoughts and feelings of other people from seeping into her cognitive flow.

As her mastery over her powers grew she also had to be careful not to project her wishes and desires onto other people. No one knew it, not even one of her handlers suspected this, but she had the ability to control the thoughts of other people, to audit their memories, to make suggestions that they were powerless to refuse.

She wanted privacy, and she had no desire to influence people. The boundaries she established for herself were crucial to preserving her sense of identity.

Those defenses required constant mindfulness, a diligence that stole her energy. And so, in order to rest, she preferred to be alone.

She was a recluse.

For Kathy, being alone was not enough, she also had to be distracted, her senses needed to be stimulated all the time, or else she would slip into the nous-sphere, float in the cynergenic field, or find herself caught up in the labyrinth of her memories.

Kathy desired little more than to be present, to be helpful, to advance the causes she cared about; diplomacy, justice, care for the environment and the safeguarding of the human race.

She was increasingly focused on the long range plans to establish a permanent human presence in space, on the moon, and toward the outer planets.

She dreamed of a life out among the stars, in those dreams she encountered a thread that pulled at her consciousness like the threads of her ancestral memories.

She heard a calling that awakened her to a sense of purpose, and with that purpose she was able to direct her energy toward the realization of her potential.

Kathy began to experience a degree of freedom she had never enjoyed before. She knew that it was entirely conditional. At all times her handlers wanted Kathy close to them, under strict observation.

The apparatus they built around her was an amazing thing to behold.

The National Security interests utilized a revolving network of spies to keep an eye on her. Every agent was linked by satellite, it gave them the ability to track her comings and goings in real time and from a distance which they felt was sufficiently safe from her prying mind.

Those agents whose mission it was to keep their eyes on her, they had no idea who she was.

They were junior agents who came and went so quickly from their assignment, that following Kathy was generally viewed as a basic training exercise. Nevertheless, every observation they made was pushed up into the cloud and correlated with the vast data base that her handlers were building to track everything she said and did.

Kathy felt her autonomy increasing.

Every little bit of space they gave her, she took.

The assignments she was given came less and less frequently. She could see the patterns in their behaviors toward her.

She knew that she was both indispensable and a matter of grave concern for the people at the top of the security apparatus.

In time, she even had some freedom to travel.

When she did, she went to the places that her ancestors directed her to.

Chapter Twenty-eight, Encounter
Week 30, 2019
Kathy began to feel something strange and unfamiliar.

She felt as if she was being followed by someone, and she was used to being followed, but this time she was being followed by a man who was not connected to the agencies she worked with.

She developed this sense in the normal way, in the way that ordinary people might feel like there are eyes on them.

That in itself was extraordinary to her experience.

She was being watched, she was under observation, she was being followed; the sense of it did not come to her from the psychic antenna that always attuned her to such things, and that was the strangest thing of all.

He left no impression whatsoever.

She began to recognize the man, to see him out of the corner of her eye while she was walking down the street, or in a line at the store buying groceries, at a café or a restaurant where she was eating or drinking.

His face evoked powerful memories, but the voices within her were silent. They could not offer any details on the man.

His presence sat in her consciousness like the weight on a fishing line, it held steady in the water, there was a hook, but she could not discern it.

She could not read him.

She could not recover a sense of him from the cynergenic field.

He was a mystery, and that was enticing.

Kathy went to her mailbox as she did every day, she reached inside always hoping to find some correspondence from her parents, or a teacher that she had been fond of.

She occasionally received mail from a teacher, or a colleague, or one of the few people she had been able to form a kind of friendship with.

It always delighted her when she did.

She never received anything from her parents, not one word at all since they had left her.

Nevertheless, personal mail was rare.

When her fingers touched the envelope inside she became very excited.

Kathy ignored the fact that the letter in her box was neither stamped nor metered.

Its arrival was completely unexpected.

She was excited.

There was a mystery in front of her, she did not have a clue what it might lead to.

She peeled the envelope open, took out its contents and read it, by doing so, she found herself entering into a conspiracy.

The script was written in an alphabet that no person other than herself could have known, and in a language from another time and place entirely.

It had no connection to the modern world.

She had to stretch her mind in unexpected ways to even recognize the pattern. When she did she was astounded.

There was danger in it, the kind of danger she wanted to run to, not away from.

She was faced with a puzzle like no other she had ever seen.

The day began like any other.

It was Sunday.

Kathy woke up, did yoga, meditated.

She prepared her coffee, and a piece of toast for breakfast.

She was looking through her task list for the week, planning her research.

Then the phone rang, and she had not had the slightest premonition of it.

The phone rang, and rang. Kathy was somewhat startled and slightly paralyzed

She allowed the phone to continue ringing, she thought it must be a wrong number, but they did not give up.

She suppressed a bubble of fear that rose within her. She faced it, telling herself that she was the most heavily guarded person in the world. She was safe, She had nothing to fear.

She lifted the receiver from the cradle.

She said, “hello.”

The man who spoke to her, spoke in a language that had been dead for millennia, there was no one else even knew this language had existed.

She had no trouble with it and she knew this must be the person who had sent her the letter, the same person who was attempting to wrap her in the cloak of conspiracy, beginning here, with this conversation.

In the conspiracy she felt a sense of belonging.

Her heart began to race, and skip; for the first time since she was an infant, she was not alone, and yet, she was slightly disturbed by his presence on the other end of the line.

Kathy was nervous.

She was Giddy.

She had reflexively looked for answers to the question of who this mysterious man was, she had peered into her memories, she had sought contact with him through the nous-sphere, in the cynergenic field.

She encountered a disturbing silence on all fronts.

Not only could she not reach him, she could not glean any information about him from any source.

That should have been impossible.

After her preliminary foray, she accepted the mystery for what it was, a gift, and she stopped looking for answers.

She was determined to move forward one step at a time, and to let the facts reveal themselves in the present moment.

They met at a café Kathy frequented, a busy place. Kathy felt secure in that, and she did not want to draw attention to him, to put him in the cross hairs of her handlers.

Kathy liked crowds. She was comfortable in them.

The more people that she was surrounded by, the easier it was for her to allow the psychic chatter of each individual to blend together as background noise.

She felt safe in the cafe. It was a place where it was not unusual for strangers to sit together, as she was about to do with the man from her letters.

Kathy was all nervous energy in the hours before she went to meet him, but on seeing him approach her she immediately began to relax.

She knew that she had never met him, but there were echoes of him throughout the long chain of her inherited memories, not him exactly, but someone like him.

The voices within her were silent, however, and so her memories were just impressions of a shadow of a mystery.

The myopia within her was tantalizing.

Why this man, of all men, why was it that she could not summon her powers to glean anything about Him?

It was intriguing, it caused her to want to learn more.

It was as if he had been present throughout her entire past, but there was no point of intersection where her genetic line crossed his.

Despite the mystery, or perhaps because of it. Kathy found herself at ease with him.

His name was Jim.

The sound of his voice soothed her.

He used patterns of speech and inflection that leapt into her consciousness as if he were speaking through her ancestry, but he wasn’t.

He shared her personal-historical perspective but he was not a part of the same continuum as she.

That first contact with him was a dream come true for Kathy, she felt a sense of privacy with him that she had never felt before.

The most significant thing about him was that she could not read his mind.

He was a man like no other she had ever met before.

It took Kathy several moments to get her bearings when she met Jim.

It was the first time she had ever encountered a human being that she could not fathom in an instant.

It left her feeling disoriented.

Kathy thought she had prepared herself for the unexpected, his knowledge of ancient languages alone informed her that she was going to encounter a unique individual, perhaps another person like herself.

It was not just his knowledge, knowledge was not the right word. He had an intimate familiarity with them, akin to her own familiarity, he knew more than the meanings of characters and symbols, he knew how the speech sounded, when it was spoken something he could only know if he had been there, or if he was attuned to some part of himself who had, as Kathy was.

In this encounter Kathy understood her own uniqueness in a new light, she was fascinated by him, and could understand how others would be fascinated with her, she could appreciate their esteem in a way she had not allowed herself to look at before.

It took her several moments to adjust to this new reality. She was uncertain as to why she had believed that being in close proximity to him would change anything.

Distance and proximity had never been factors in her ability to reach another mind before.

Jim was closed to her.

All she wanted to do was to be absorbed by him, to lose herself in him, as everyone she had ever been with had been lost in her.

For the very first time she felt a longing that was not rooted in loneliness and isolation.

She felt as if she were a distinct person, distinct from him, and she felt desire for him.

Kathy looked forward to every meeting with Jim. It both excited her, and made her feel a deep sense of trepidation.

She imagined that at any time her handlers from the Agency would come to put a stop to it, to interrogate her and ask her endless questions about who he was, how he appeared in her life, what his motivations were.

She knew that they would be disturbed if she were to tell them that she did not know the answers to those questions.

Being with Jim gave Kathy a feeling that she had never experienced before. She felt peace, and comfort.

She felt understood

She was like a child with her father. He was older, wiser. In fact, his age was unfathomable to her.

He never asked her to use her abilities, to explain things, to read minds, to solve problems, to perform her tricks. This differentiated him from every other person she had ever met, other than her biological parents.

And yet, Kathy wanted to perform for him, show off her skills, to demonstrate her intelligence, to show him that she represented the apex of human potential, something she did not really believe, but that she knew other people believed of her.

His mind was still.

He was utterly opaque.

She knew that he was an ancient person, an alien, an anomaly, and yet nevertheless human, in the full sense of the term.

He was not like her, he was something different, and she loved him without question.
Emergence 4.0
Part Four, Kathy

A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Three, Earth, Collected Chapters

Chapter Fifteen, Observation
After the Indonesia eruption, during the time that Jim was gathering the people together, while he was forming them into enduring tribes, subtle changes began to take shape in the social and cultural traditions of the people.

They drew pictures in the soil with sticks to narrate their journeys, and chart their path of 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 echoes of their memories of their previous sojourn among the stars.

Those memories lingered, they were intense.

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.

They mixed colors and painted, projecting images of the future they desired on cave walls, both the things they wanted, hoped for; food and water, and wanted more to avoid; a short life, a dangerous animal, an encounter with a stronger tribe.

They were overwhelming concerned with safety and security.

They depicted things no one living 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.

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 these operated as a visceral reinforcement of the memories that the human tribes passed down from one generation to the next.

It changed them on the genetic level, setting up successive generations to recall them, relive them, to transform those stories into a part of their being.

Jim played to this phenomenon, he avidly worked to eradicate any form of written narrative.

He succeeded.

Every tribe developed its own oral tradition. Stories were handed down from master to pupil.

Paintings and images, sculptures, these became objects of religious ritual and devotion. People only engaged in their creation with careful attention.

Music was 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 an alien 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.

It was a grand orchestration.

Even before the eruption 72,000 years ago, the culture of these children of the Ancient People, the culture of the humans of Earth had devolved.

They had fallen from star-farer to cave dweller.

Yet their cultures retained a faint memory of its 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, it was precious little to build on.

He was determined to modify their genetic profile in such a way that it could boost the organic memory retention of their bodies as much as possible.

Jim engineered in himself a bifurcation of consciousness.

In the satellite station far above the planet, he housed the full version of himself hosted in the mechanoid body that travelled with him to Earth.

That consciousness was connected to hundreds of living vessels, 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 was in fact only permitted one organic body.

Over time, he received the materials from the Empire to build a space station. On that station he was able to carry out experiments, to perform the science that would allow him to carry out the augmentations both in himself and the human race that he needed.

There were a myriad of steps to climb for him to accomplish his goals with the inhabitants of Earth, and numerous channels to cross.

Jim slowly, 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, allowing 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 them 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 they all shared.

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, in 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.

The Ancient Spacefarers became humanity.

Once they arrived in orbit around their new world, a slow metamorphosis took place.

A new gene was introduced, for their final transformation.

Their contact with the Earth’s bio-sphere presented challenges they had never encountered before.

Life on earth was aggressive.

Through a constant exposure to viruses and bacteria their genetic constitution became compromised.

At the most basic level they converged with the native life of Earth.

They became a new people, the belonged to each other and to their new planet entirely.

This 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 here.

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 had such a massive cultural devolution occurred. He had barely begun to put the story together before the cataclysm 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, along with broadening their access to their genetic memory.

With subtle interventions from Jim, the human brain slowly mutated, retaining properties that were key to the things that he had been dreaming about for a billion years.

He built an inherent capacity to store nanoparticles of key heavy metals, like magnetite, and lithium in the cerebral structure.

Receptors emerged in the organic mind, attenuating the higher order thought processes to the Earth’s magnetic fields.

He established a cynergy between every human being alive, turning the entire planet into a field for cognitive development.

In this way humanity became connected, in the nous-sphere, a collective unconscious emerged.
It was atavistic, and unlike any symbiosis that had ever been achieved anywhere else in the galaxy, with the exception of the Collective.

On Earth the collective consciousness emerged as a natural property of the human race in a way that allowed it to go unnoticed by the Continuum.

In that moment of triumph Jim had fully actualized the launch phase of his grand ambition.

The existence of the collective unconscious on Earth was the one thing that the Continuum feared, wanted above anything to prevent, and yet it never imagined that it could happen in this way, therefore it could see it, and could never prepare for it.

Few humans were ever 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.

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 to it.

If an imbalance in their physiology caused them to retain too great a concentration of the particles that attenuated them to the field, or too small, they struck an improper balance, and they suffered because of it.

It gave some human beings clairvoyant abilities, clairsentience, clairaudience, so called psychic powers, extra sensory perception or telepathy.

Those abilities drove many more human beings to madness, schizophrenia and psychosis.

In order for them to understand it they had to wait for the advent of written language, and thousands of years to pass so that they could share the knowledge of it and come to an understanding.

By then Jim figured it would be to late for the Continuum to do anything about it.

Chapter Sixteen, Existence
The flesh remembers, it never forgets.

The record of our experiences are pounded into our corporeal form, cell by cell.

Our bodies are a living witness to the events that shape us, handing down that narrative from generation to generation in perpetuity.

We are changed by every new experience, 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.

Our unique and individual experiences are like a tapestry, sewn with precious metals, embroidered with gem-stones, they are an endowment from us, a rich heritage passed on to our descendants.

It is their only lasting inheritance, laid on the table like a convivial feast.

We experience this 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 a mirror, but we do not recognize our countenance or visage.

The flesh never forgets, it remembers everything.

The Ancient race of spacefarers were bipeds. They stood on two feet just as the humans of Earth would in their time.

The longer the Ancient colonists remained on their journey among the stars, the more they adapted their physiology to the unique exigencies of their vessel. In the case of the group that eventually landed on Earth, they learned to adapt themselves to conditions of near weightlessness.

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.

They transformed, as much as they could back to the form that was the closest approximation to what they had originally been.

They prepared once again to stand on two feet.

The interactive relationship between the creature; the animal and its body with its environment determined 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 differentiated human beings from every other creature.

It was with their heads held high and 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.

They 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, 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 this reality.

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 voice are waves crashing through 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.

It is relational, it imparts a sense of belonging.

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 night.

Bands of light cross the full spectrum, piercing organic lenses from corner to corner.

One-hundred and eighty degrees, 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 in 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 a different spectrum 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 is powerful, it takes in a wide range of each of those possible fields, coordinating them for great effect.

The human species did not evolve to hunt and gather with its sight, or to favor one sense over any other, neither did the Ancient People from which it sprang.

For the human animal, sight and the other physical senses were merely inputs for the mind. The mind was the vehicle by which the human being stalked its prey, gathered its forage, planted, sewed, and came to 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 that generates 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 of the brain.

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 it was electric.

The nano-particles in the neural net allowed each individual to be connected through Earth’s electromagnetic field 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.

The past and the present were one

The human being was one, even in light of its inherent duality.

The human body is water.

Metaphors of fluidity permeate the human consciousness.

The surface of earth is mostly water, and in times of great crises the surface of the waters, and the deep-deep places, were the places where human beings returned to for refuge, safety and sustenance.

Oceans, and lakes, and rivers provided everything

The body needs water, as it needs oxygen to fill the lungs, to fill the blood cells racing through its veins and arteries, coursing into tissues.

There is no greater pain than thirst, and the 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 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 whole body is a cognitive organ, not just the brain, the cerebellum, or the cerebral cortex.

The body senses and it remembers.

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 built onto 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.

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 take place a billions of times per second. So does the human being function as a small piece of the larger-cynergenic world.

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.

It is on this dual framework that we launch ourselves into the full realization of who we are.

Chapter Seventeen, Volcano

Most of the people in the world had no knowledge of the threat posed by the Yellowstone volcano, 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.

Yet, people did.

After airing for a decade and raising the level of alarm, newer productions began to slip miss-information into the narrative. 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 crucial and most informative data became restricted.

Then, 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 face of the sun.

There was no safety anywhere.

When Jim first came to Earth in the centuries before the first volcanic cataclysm that he witnessed, seventy-four thousand years ago, he found the human family and 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 thriving and recovering 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, 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 the tribes he was with, to keep them from committing the most ghastly crimes, the hunting of other humans for food, crimes of cannibalism.

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 bifurcated his consciousness and sent replicas 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 him, he was intent on seeing the people through this disaster and rebuilding their communities once again.

Now 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.

The Planet held no mysteries for him.

He had known about the life cycle of this caldera for millennia, and every other volcano on Earth’s unstable surface as well.

He was determined not to be taken by surprise, 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.

It was a scientific age, but only for a small segment of human civilization. They had barely begun to understand the atom and the genome, and yet they were quick to adapt their new-found knowledge into weapons, and other useful tools.

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 they were able to land safely and return.

It was only when the heat beneath the super-volcano was discovered, only because the found that it was pushing an entire mountain range upward into the sky, were 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.

It 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, whose job it was to watch the monster volcano, 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. While they gathered data they had no means of correlating them to actual events.

As sweeping as the observations they made were, which were as comprehensive as was technologically possible, 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 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 personal about these events.

It was just geology, there was no divine wrath or judgement at all.

God had no purpose in it, only Jim did.

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 where an event might happen that took place in a six hundred thousand year cycle.

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.

Misinformation leaked into the public sphere every day as the explosion neared. 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.

They would deal with the aftermath, when the volcano erupted. They would position their forces to take advantage of the catastrophe on a global scale.

This was the only end 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.

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 must be in position at the exact second the cataclysm occurred.

The final hours and minutes he was with her 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 a push, he gave her some momentum and set her on course.

He had established the relationships, with key people to push her further, to get her in the right place at the right time.

There were plans within plans, and contingencies for everything.

His greatest work depended on Kathy, depended on her openness to discovery, her instinct for safety and her genuine care for other people.

There is no fate.

There is 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. They are the 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.

There was nowhere, no planet in the great galactic Empire that did not have access to these resources.

Earth was alone, floating by itself in the far reaches of the spiral arm of the galaxy. It was an isolated backwater, hundreds of light years from the nearest Imperial outpost.

Earth did not have the resources of other worlds in the 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 technological aid.

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.

The Continuum wanted to see the whole thing crushed, set back, and controlled.

Chapter Eighteen, Disaster
Yellowstone National Park was a place of awesome-beauty, a landscape of surreal contrasts exploding from the living rock and shifting mountains.

It draws millions of visitors every year to wander its grounds and traverse its trails, including some who are simply driving through

It was a sanctuary for wildlife; a thousand little creatures preserved in their habitat as well as 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 its thin surface, a cauldron of liquid rock boiling below the mantle, 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. It melted 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, but it was too late.

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 done, 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 it out, that the changes were actually caused by geological uplift. The understanding of what that meant, its implications, took even more years to complete. They had to change their perspective significantly, they had to look at the area of uplift with satellite imagery and that is when they noticed 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, a cycle of planetary doom.

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 just beginning to understand it.

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 cutting through Yellowstone, above the volcano began to melt, cracking from the heat and the top researches on the site resigned to protest of the deliberate misinformation campaign the government waged 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.

A few knew what this meant, or believed they did. They sounded the warning. Some of them were alarmists, 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.

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 was beyond any of their calculations, the collateral damage to geological and hydrological systems was not anything that anyone had conceived of.

Communications were down around the globe.

Nuclear reactors were off line and began melting down.

Tsunamis were rising in the shallow seas.

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.

Volcanoes erupted around the world all the time.

There were other smaller volcanoes of this type in other places.

The only witness to the last event was, who had been there seventy-four thousand years ago, when the last massive caldera blew.

The Indonesia volcano nearly wiped out the human race. 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, the geologists and 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.

Ash shot in to 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. They had prepared for nuclear war, an alien invasion, a zombie apocalypse, but not this.

A majority of those survivalists either died in the preliminary blast, and the subsequent correlated upheavals of the chaos that ensued.

Many died trying to reach their secret bunkers while roads became impassable, they were buried in the fallout.

Nevertheless, there were many who did make it.

Many who had sequestered themselves in hidden enclaves, in 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.

Outsiders became foodstuff.

Cannibalism set in, as it always did, and quickly as it always did in 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.

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 was intended, and it meant that the human being who survived would have transcended into a brand new state of being.

There coming would change the Empire in the far reaches of the galaxy.

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; the crocodile, the turtle, and the frog.

Coastal areas provided recourse for the survivor. 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.
Chapter Nineteen, Consciousness
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.

Each instance of birth is the beginning of a series of reflections made by the universe, on itself, for itself. The relative length of those 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.

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 animate life of fish and insect, of reptile and avian, of mammal, these life forms are rare. These animate beings 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, they were the first, and until their colonists reached Earth, they thought 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, or as food, 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 drive that is necessary to advance culture.

The rudiments of language are warnings.

Sirens and alarms link directly into the limbic system: fight or flight.

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 came to mitigate those responses can be erased in moments.

Even the human being, 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, their mother.

It is a time of total dependency.

Two hearts beating in the same body, sharing the same flow of blood, of oxygen. 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.

This does not end at birth.

The child travels with the mother in the warmth and dark of the womb for nine month, through genesis, formation and growth.

It learns the low tone of the mother’s voice, her rhythm of speaking, of moving, of singing.

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 her body.

Everyone else in the world is an alien, potentially hostile, a threat…except for mother.

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.

The father is 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 on his authority.

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 and in the world.

Good or bad, 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 they share 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 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, accomplishing great things together, and 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, broke his body on the rocks below, a blood-sacrifice for the eternal city.

The duplicity of the human being, 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 their well-being, 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 the organ of the brain is changed, at the same time the code inside the cells is rewritten, peptides and amino acid redraft the genetic sequence, and the endowment is passed on to succeeding generations, it is a growing inheritence.

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 well-being of the family and tribe as being in alignment with their own, 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, because they have in reality become a recognizable part of who we are, our relationship to them, our memories of them have changed our genetic codes and the physical structure of the brain, both.

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. We feel the flood of neuro-chemicals and learn to control the mechanae which regulate them. The most significant among them being fear.

Fear lodged deep within the limbic system, in the far reaches of the “reptilian” brain, in the spine and the neural network flowing out from it into our extremities, fear is the great divider, 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, 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 things of their experience 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.

It is open ended: self, uncle, aunt, self, cousin, self, offspring, self, niece, nephew, self, spouse, self, friend, self…

It is through kinship, by relating to those whom we believe share our deepest interests that we learn to see strangers as other-selves, even the adversary.

There are language games, there is neuro-linguistic programming in every culture that can force these issues. They combine words and actions, feelings of mystery through rituals of shame, fear and empowerment, which break down barriers, moving a person rapidly through every stage of acceptance in regard to another. Religion, and ritual, military service and shared suffering among them. By passing through these stages a person become fully realized and in possession of their true self.

Chapter Twenty, Collective

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.

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 and our siblings, to our clans 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 the patterns that play themselves out, in both the small cycles and the 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, our state.

Our identities are completely enmeshed with the identity of the group we are raised in. 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 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 of 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, and 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 about them, and passed them on to their children, and their children’s children, as the saga 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 ancestors.

They imagined 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 the other 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, and projected 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.

In the animal world it could be dangerous, even deadly. The competition for leadership was intense, it was largely physical, and the strongest usually won.

Among humans the intensity was no less, but it was often more deadly, and physical strength was not the most significant indicator of primacy.

Social hierarchies formed in villages; around the well, at the markets, in the 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 was undergoing 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 peers.

There was jealousy, yes, and envy. There were customs and taboos that were well established, intending 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 its members the means by which they could advance, redress wrongs, recover from injury, hold fast to their position.

The 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 of those who were dependent.

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, to be inclusive. Everyone was a part of the whole.

Then there were the others.

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, pulling 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 purposive of enlarging the group.

In the beginning we learned to honor the other, the stranger, and we held in esteem the strengths they brought to new society.

They farmed, they built granaries and the foundations of the city flowed from there, from wellsprings to ziggurats.

The granaries became temples, where the people prayed for and received their daily allotment of food, grain and seed to 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, ziggurats, great platforms that touched the sky, and 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 sung about or to be utterly forgotten. To achieve immortality through the songs and sagas of the people, or to become dust, nothing at all.

Most, 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 formed were weaker than family bonds. Individually they 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…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, 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. They were forged by choices.

The 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 connective tissues 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, and they transcend themselves 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.

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. Their National identity transcended their sense of themselves as a member of a family, and even as individuals.

Chapter Twenty-one, Migration
Families gathered together in sheltered spaces, a clearing in the trees.

They formed bands, small groups that clung to one another for safety.

They established camps close to the springs that fed the clear streams providing them with the clean water they needed for life, and nourishment.

They built their fires, burning bright, smoking fish, birds and rabbits. The fed 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.

They had returned to the primordial life.

The built small shelters in and around the trees.

They only moved 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, the wild onions and mushrooms and cleared the region of the living beings they feasted on, then they would move.

Through their story telling the developed the ethos that the migratory life was the path that nature had intended. It was the life of the natural person, it was peaceful and well ordered, and provided the tribal-bands with everything they needed from season to season.

When the sky cleared and the azure-deep returned to the day. When the paths of the stars was 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 looked across the desserts and plains, looked over the tall grasses and steep dunes, and took to them, exposing themselves beneath in the open.

They came to worship the sky in its brilliant-blue, 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, 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, it pushed them with an existential imperative.

Survival 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.

In the face of every danger they were free, they were a people without care. They clung together for safety, 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, the voices of the wind, and 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, and 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 they counted them.

They piled stones atop one another, fitting them neatly together, building their homes with a wide view of their surroundings.

The humans were looking upward and outward in search of their memories, recalling unconsciously the sojourn of their ancient ancestors.

They rested on the hill-tops, beneath the stars and sun, resting at the feet of mountains, beside their waterfalls and streams.

As they listened to the sound of the wind through the rocks, and through the 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; shepherds, and cowherds, and goatherds, every tribe developed its own way of being 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, totems of 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 in 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, they scaled the lofty peaks looking for new pastures and passes and crossings to other worlds.

They found themselves in the highest places, they found the sacred 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.

They remembered the sojourn of their forbears in myth and song.

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, tracked down each curve and bend as they widened into creeks and rivulets, becoming streams that flowed into rivers.

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, even 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, every brook was imbued with inherent spiritual power. 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 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 destination to the next.

They came to the great lakes and seas, the broad shorelines of the world’s oceans became the first roads.

They trekked across them as if they were long and winding highways, herding their flocks by 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, strength and pride and 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, 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 water.

They were searching for mysteries in the deep, beneath the ever changing face of the water’s surface.

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 and oysters and muscles.

They spent their nights under the flowing lights of the stars.

The stars sang to them, each glowing orb with a voice its own, and they imagined a galaxy, every bright light suspended in black liquid, soaring through the ether.

Their dreams were transcendent.

Many were swept away in the accidental crossing of storms.

Some perished.

Others clung to their tiny crafts, their rafts, and found their way to other shores, thousands of miles from home.
Emergence 4.0
Part Three, Earth

A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

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Emergence 3.0 – Section Six (a), Rebellion; Appendix Part Fourteen, Conspiracy; Collected Chapters

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Friday, May 3rd, 2019

Chapter One: Unease

Courage and selflessness were not dominant character traits among the members of the Collective, even among those who entered the Observer Corps.

The members of the Observer Corps who desired change, they were necessarily uneasy. They craved revolution and fomented rebellion, but very few of them were actually willing to risk their own existence on it.

As a result they most often took half measures, and their efforts were regularly spoiled.

They feared being discovered by the Continuum for the parts they played in revolutionary activities, not for the things they did in the Empire, at their station in the worlds of Time and Space, but for instigating unease in the Collective itself, which was the only way they could conceive of actually having an impact on the Continuum.

If the prevailing attitudes, mores and values of the Collective change, logic demanded that the Continuum would change as well.

None of them suspected that the Continuum was a free agent.

They believed what they had been taught, that it was an amalgamation of the Collective consciousness.

They feared that any other Observer, those who were not a part of their cabal, if they knew of their role in support of an active rebellion, they feared those members would betray them, and so they were exceedingly cautious.

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Saturday, May 4th, 2019

Chapter Two: Disturbance

The Continuum was a master of chaos, but for itself all it wanted was peace. It wanted the security of feeling that it was in absolute control and beholden to no one.

Not the Collective, not anything, not anyone,

The rebellious Observers were a disturbance to it, which is why they were removed from the Collective and sent to the Observer Corps. The Continuum excised them from the body of the Collective like it would any malignancy.

The Continuum interpreted any ripple of disturbance as a challenge to its management of the Collective.

If a rebellious member caused trouble, that presence generated waves of sentiment that washed through the Collective, which could grow in force and power until they washed over everyone. It would throw the Continuum off, and could alter the trajectories of the narratives it was crafting for the consumption of the whole.

Dealing with such members could throw off ages of work. The Continuum resented it.

The Continuum would not suffer their malign influence, especially if it threatened to capture the hearts and minds of its constituency.

The Continuum could not tolerate any loss of control, any suggestion that it was not the cause of its own being, or any notion that it was a servant to the Collective.

It saw the Collective as belonging to it.

And over the course of millions of years it slowly pushed the original membership into the great sleep, into sequestration, into the Observer Corps.

It lost members, which was tantamount to murder, and it gradually replaced their number with citizens of the Empire, those who had demonstrated the greatest level of loyalty to the Imperial Cult, and had completely bonded with its religious tradition.

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Sunday, May 5th, 2019

Chapter Three: Foment

They were perpetually exposed.

The Observers could not foment revolution against the Continuum directly, they were forced to work through proxies, to lay plans generations in advance, to hide their motivations behind a screen of misdirection and false intentions

The Continuum knew them intimately and their duty to return to HomeWorld exposed their consciousness to it, and to the Collective in its entirety.

They were the most closely watched group of people anywhere within reach of the Continuum’s influence. They were spied upon by living agents and mechanical devices; filmed, recorded, tracked.

There was no escaping it.

They could not oppose the Continuum or the Collective directly, therefore they worked against the Empire, which the Collective fed on, like a parasite on its host.

The Empire was comprised of a million worlds, which to the rebel, represented a million targets to choose from.

They sought to weaken the Collective, and to poison the Continuum through an endless barrage of attacks, and propaganda.

It targeted the Imperial cult.

The rebels engaged in propaganda to undermine the rule of the priestly class, seeking to expose them at every opportunity for the despots they were. The generated conflict among its members, and attacked them covertly.

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Monday, May 6th, 2019

Chapter Four: Commitment

It was not for the faint of heart.

The wavering spirit had no place here.

Revolution requires an absolute commitment from the rebels engaged in subversive activities, from anyone whose desire it is to bring about the changes they view as necessary for the satisfaction of justice, and to create the possibility of new way of life.

The rebel had to demonstrate that commitment through a variety of tests.

They had to be willing to kill or be killed, to risk everything and everyone, to destroy everything even the thing they are trying to save.

They must go through the crucible. In it they must demonstrate their blind faith in the righteousness of their cause.

There is an aphorism that guides rebel movements everywhere: Only those with the ability to destroy a thing, are able to control the thing.

If you encounter the Buddha on the side of the road, kill him.

The rebel must be willing to sacrifice everything, few are able to rise to this level. Foot soldiers, yes they number in the trillions and that type of person is always willing to throw their bodies into the line of fire.

Among their commanders this quality is much more difficult to find, it has to be cultivated.

Those with the intellectual capacity for command, are less likely to be willing to throw their lives away. Those with the ability to sacrifice anything and anyone, those people are less likely to care, even about themselves.

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Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

Chapter Five: Cabal

They congregated in shadows and in silence.

Rebels found each other in the most secretive places, in the darkest corners, communicating with one another at a distance, in disjointed time.

A mark on a wall, a jingle in the subtext of a song.

They learned to communicate with the most subtle signals, signs which they believed would evade the detection of the Empire.

The Imperial monitors did not miss much.

The Continuum missed even less.

They pushed messages slowly, over time, establishing lines of communication that joined them together, like a thin cable stretched between worlds.

They were ingenious.

They showed a profound ability to adapt.

A rebel movement would slowly gain energy over the course of generations before it would suddenly explode in a violent blast.

Then it would be extinguished.

The revolutionaries lived for the vision of their ideals.

They were not the prisoners of actualities.

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Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

Chapter Six: Column

A revolution is a journey, it is also a building.

A revolution has a foundation, rooted in the experience of injustice.

It has levels.

It has connections and conduits.

It requires mechanisms of support.

The rebellion against the Empire mirrored the revolutionary movement among the Observers, it was held together by thin cabals made-up of loose associations and sympathizers, tightened like the individual strands of thread woven together to form a length of rope.

The hope of billions of people were held together like a spider’s web.

Cabals became columns capable of supporting the concerted action of masses of people, providing more security and a base from which to launch their aspirations, their vision of a future without the over-control of tyranny.

A sustained endeavor requires stability.

Revolutionary movements will never become realized without the support of such columns, they are the pillars that hold up the vault of their ideals.

With proper support the edifice they are constructing can take on the aspect of a mountain. It can remake the surface of a world.

Such is the ambition of the rebel.

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Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Chapter Seven: Sacrifice

From the rebel chief to the common soldier and every rank in between, the focus of each individual included a daily meditation on death

A revolution cannot survive without sacrifice, the rebel Observers understood this. They sacrificed each other with great regularity, they did not count loyalty to one another as a virtue.

Theirs was a society of self-interest. Their common desire for autonomy united them more than any commitment to their ideals.

It was a rare occasion that would result in any member of the Observer Corps sacrificing their own self for the sake of their fellows, or for their movement.

It was rare, but it did happen.

Even a member of the Collective could arrive at a place where they were willing to serve a cause greater than their own purposes; the key dynamics always involved generating feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and despair within them.

They had to perceive that they were in a trap and that being trapped there was no escape, and so their sacrifice was reduced to a final gesture of defiance against the Continuum which they abhorred.

These were rare moments, and every one of them mattered.

They could be engineered, as most of them were. They were engineered by their fellows who had some advantage to gain in seeing them disposed of.

It happened through betrayal.

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Emergence 3.0:
Section Six (a), Rebellion

Appendix Part Fourteen, Conspiracy

Collected Chapters
01 Unease
02 Disturbance
03 Foment
04 Commitment
05 Cabal
06 Column
07 Sacrifice

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Emergence 3.0 – Section Six (a), Rebellion; Appendix Part Thirteen; Collective, Collected Chapters

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Friday, April 26th, 2019

Chapter One: The Trillion

The Collective was vast

The Collective was comprised of a trillion persons, each one of them a distinct identity, each ruling their personal-private domain, worlds that were virtually indistinguishable (from their perspective), from the worlds of time and space.

They had god-like powers.

Their culture was despotic, nearly every one of them was driven to extremes of depravity by their long exposure to time, and by boredom. They required extreme experiences, high pitched emotional events, to touch them.

Most of the Collective created the experiences they needed in their private Domaine, drawing inspiration from the living drama unfolding in the Empire for the narrative they lived for, in their private universe of concerns.

Some cared nothing at all for their private domain, forgoing them as mere contrivances, instead they were riveted by the random nature of the lives they followed in the Empire.

As a whole the Collective suffered from systemic malaise, each member was afflicted by a deep seeded narcissism that formed the core of their identity. Their near divinity allowed them to believe that they were indispensable, going so far as to believe that reality itself depended on their existence.

They lived in a bubble.

They influenced the real world through their artificial construct, the Continuum, and to lesser degrees if they chose to become Observers, in all other respects that were as effectual as neutered beasts.

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Saturday, April 27th, 2019

Chapter Two: The Majority

They were indifferent.

They were socio-pathic.

Most of the members of the Collective thought nothing of their role as consumers of pain and suffering. They did not consider the people of the Empire, the Children of the ancients, the denizens of the livings worlds as people at all.

They were things, objects of amusement. They were utterly disposable. They had no merit whatsoever beyond the enjoyment they provided to the Collective.

The membership was enthralled by the vicarious experience of the living, by the real stakes and real feelings of the people involved in the conflicts they were witness to.

The suffering of others was like a soothing balm to them.

For billions of years they had subsisted on this diet.

The members of the Collective were like hungry spirits, they haunted the worlds of time and space, in the quest for meaning, meaning which their own lives were totally bereft of.

They were seeking understanding.

Over hundreds of millions and billions of years they had lost their sense of self, of life’s meaning and its purpose.

The power at their fingertips robbed them of any sense of normalcy or connection to their roots.

With the exception of the Continuum itself, each and every member had originated as a living being.

Only a tiny minority of them had taken on the task of being an Observer and in that capacity returned to the living worlds

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Sunday, April 28th, 2019

Chapter Three: The Sleepers

There were millions of them; the sleepers, members who had become dissatisfied with being and had subsequently disconnected from their lives in the collective field of HomeWorld, they had gone catatonic, become unresponsive and would not be drawn into any debate.

The sleepers had voluntarily opted out of the field of consciousness. There was no telling if or when they would ever return.

Whether they had ever been stimulated by the drama unfolding in the worlds of time and space or not, they had become disinterested and the Continuum could not raise them.

They were tired. They no-longer wanted to spend energy on the maintenance of their private realities.

They were a small group in relation to the whole of the Collective but their numbers were great nonetheless, they could not be ignored and they were a part of the Continuum.

They entered the great sleep, but they did not disappear, they remained a vital part of the unconscious of the Continuum, often to its consternation.

The Continuum committed crimes against the sleepers. He would duplicate their consciousness and house it in a remote location of the Central System. He canvassed them continuously, tortured them, and through his examination of them he selected members for destruction, replacing their numbers with new members from the Imperium, with members who worshipped it.

It was only upon sequestration were they removed from the consciousness of the Collective. Sequestration was an extreme end, no one could be sequestered lightly, until Jim’s re-emergence from it, sequestration was believed to be a point of no return

Sequestration amounted to death, in a very real way. Only Jim had ever broken free of it.

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Monday, April 29th, 2019

Chapter Four: The Sequestered

Inasmuch as they could not admit it, the members of the Collective were mortal beings, they emerged from the primordial ooze and became sentient creatures. They had a beginning in space and time, and they felt the pull of it tugging at the roots of their consciousness.

Some of the membership sought death;more than sleep, they wanted their light to be extinguished, they wanted to be gone for good, but there was no death for them.

There was no provision for it in the construct that was the Collective.

The sheer majority of the membership were opposed to it, and the Continuum would not allow it.

They opted for sequestration instead. This was understood to be a full separation of their individual consciousness from the Continuum.

It was as death like as death could be.

Sequestration was intended to be a deeper unconsciousness than the great-sleep, it was the outer darkness.

In sequestration the member was physically removed from the Collective field of Home world. Placed in an isolation chamber and monitored.

The physical security of the Sequestered members was of the highest importance, great care went into its planning and construction.

The only threat these members ever faced came from the Continuum itself, which used the sequestration process to eliminate those who it perceived to be its enemies.

The Continuum viewed sequestration as an act of insurrection against its governance of the Collective.

It could not accept the fact that some of the membership found no value in the ongoing continuation of their existence, the Continuum saw this as a judgement against its management of their society, a judgement of failure.

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Tuesday, April 30th, 2019

Chapter Five: The Agitators

The continuum was connected to every member of the Collective; awake or sleeping. It was connected to the exception of the sequestered and the members of the Observer Corps, even all of those members who were physically detached from the HomeWorld.

There were contentious elements within the Collective, members the Continuum could not control. Even though the Continuum was an autonomous being, it felt there independence, it often sensed them as an itch, a disturbing sensation that it could not alleviate.

The Continuum pushed those agitators into the fields of time and space, or pushed them into the great sleep, and pushed them into sequestration, through a variety of malign influences, in order to do away with them.

When the opportunity presented itself, it would seek to eliminate them for all time, permanently delete them, it sought to murder them.

They were maladaptive and misanthropic. The Continuum could not tolerate them, could not abide their presence in its own consciousness.

It desired to be rid of them, and so it monitored all of their movements, it made copies of their persona, to torture and exact a sick kind of vengeance on.

They were vocal, and it delighted the Continuum to snuff them out, to strangle their voices in the dark time and time again.

They transferred their sense of entitlement, one derived from the absolute authority they had in their private worlds, to their voice in the Collective. Which made it virtually impossible for them to be ignored.

They wanted more than the Collective or the Continuum offered, they wanted life, and so the Continuum provided it, until in time it snuffed them out.

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Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

Chapter Six: The Enemy

The Continuum was a construct, an artificial consciousness, not a mere program, it was an amalgamation of the Collective in its fullness harnessed by an algorithm.

It was meant to be the democratic representation of the will of the membership, but upon its instantiation it became more than the sum of its parts.

This would have surprised the engineers who designed it, but they never knew, the Continuum hid this from them at the outset.

This would have surprised them, but it should not have, they should have expected it. They should have expected the amalgamated whole of a society of sentient beings to be as free in its agency as they were in theirs, the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

The Continuum saw itself as the end point of creation, and therefore, sui generis, as the cause of its own being.

The Continuum was the Demi-urge, and the Collective was the pleroma of consciousness from which it emerged.

The Continuum controlled everything, it did so as the supposed representative of the Collective will. As such the Continuum was universally loathed by all of those members of the Collective with revolutionary tendencies.

To them the Continuum was the enemy, it represented a kind of tyranny, it was a bitter god, the Devil itself.

It was the enemy.

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Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

Chapter Seven: The Death Seekers

Nihilism is a disease of the heart and mind, one that affects every culture. The Collective was no exception to this.

Among the rebellious Observers there was a subset of revolutionaries whose only desire was death. They had no other intention than to draw the curtain down on the whole charade of life. Not merely their own lives, they wanted to see the end of everything. They had an impetus toward nothingness, they saw existence itself as suffering and they wanted to see the end of it.

They were intent on the destruction of the entire apparatus of the Collective and it’s Continuum, of the Empire and its machinations. They were bent on it, on wiping the slate clean and starting over.

These members fomented revolution wherever they could, they thought nothing of the lives that were spent, and the suffering that ensued from their machinations.

They were not many, relative to the whole, but they numbered in thousands, and they had significant powers at their disposal.

They had the power to engulf a world in conflict, as such they would scheme to draw the ire of the Imperium, they would wage war against it, and watch the worlds they occupied reduced to nothing.

Few of them were willing to actually sacrifice themselves for the cause they purported to believe in.

The Continuum was well aware of their intentions, it harnessed their ambitions, directing their energy toward the narratives that served it best.

They were all cosmic fools.

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Emergence: 3.0
Section Six (A), Rebellion

Appendix Part Thirteen, Collective

Collected Chapters
01 The Trillion
02 The Majority
03 The Sleepers
04 The Sequestered
05 The Agitators
06 The Enemy
07 The Death Seekers

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Emergence 3.0 – Section Six (a), Rebellion; Appendix Part Twelve, Observers; Collected Chapters

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Friday, April 19th, 2019

Chapter One: Agitators

Revolutionaries and rebels were vital to the dramatic narrative the Continuum used to keep the Collective sated.

The Continuum sought to manage the revolutionaries, to control their fire, to target their outrage, to utilize their passion for justice for the sake of the narratives and threads of story that came from it.

The primary instruments of this programming were the Observers that were stationed on every world.

The Continuum knew them, it knew them intimately, it knew each and every one of them from its long exposure with their consciousness as members of the Collective, and through its deep contact with them when they returned to HomeWorld for their cyclical examination.

Each Observer was supposed to be assigned to a world of their own, and free to carry out their mission as they determined best. Upon entering the Observer Corps they were given these assurances, and such assurances were understood to have the force of law.

The Continuum did not honor these traditions and cultivated its own special agents from among the Observers, granting them greater powers and more license in order to execute its will through the Empire. Among the tasks these agents were given were the fomenting of revolution, and the crushing of rebellion.

Dangerous and agitating influences were rooted out, or intensified if it suited the desires of the Collective.

There was nothing sacred

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Saturday, April 20th, 2019

Chapter Two: Selectees

The Continuum was endlessly engaged in the winnowing process, searching the Collective for the most opportune candidates to facilitate its work in the realms of time of and space.

Their personality profile had to correspond to a kind of Golden Mean; hedonistic but not debilitated by gluttony, despotic but not inclined to tyranny. It was a careful balance and one that must be able to hold after they were set loose in the worlds of the Imperium.

Many who wanted to join the observer Corps did not meet this profile, only in rare instances could the Continuum actually refuse a member, though it would often sabotage their efforts in the training process, if the member went against it’s will.

The Continuum selected candidates from among the disquieted members of the Collective for its long range missionary work, sending them far afield, out into the minor planets of the million worlds of the empire.

The continuum desired to be free of their feelings of uncertainty, disencumbered from their existential angst.

Most of them were eager for the opportunity to live in the flesh again, many volunteered. Some were even altruistic.

They wanted change and the stimulation of sensory organs, they required new and different kinds of experiences before returning to their own private reality.

Many only ventured into the flesh for a cycle. Some went repeatedly, dipping in and out of the experience of bodily living.

Many of them wanted to exercise their fantasies in a visceral way, where the stakes were real, where their flesh mattered to them and the preservation of it was the experience of real life.

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Sunday, April 21st, 2019

Chapter Three: Malcontents

The members of the Collective who were discontent with their existence on HomeWorld, unsatisfied in their role as the supreme being of their own private reality, and disinterested in the narratives that were delivered to them through the Experience of the living worlds, these malcontents presented a problem for the Continuum.

The Continuum experienced their contribution to the Collective as an irritant.

Though the Continuum did not want to admit it, every member was a constitutive elements of its being. Their passions or dispassions, both were determinants in what the Continuum could do.

The Continuum desired nothing more than to remove them from the Collective field, permanently, and to replace their numbers with Candidates from the Empire who were steeped in the World view they had received from the Imperial Cult and through their conditioning in the Imperial schools.

Removing the malcontent from the Collective allowed the Continuum greater controls. It was like a suspension of their membership. Their voice was no longer heard, this amounted to a reprieve for the Continuum, which experienced their influence in a way that outstripped the singular node of their being.

Sending the malcontents to the worlds of time and space removed them completely from the Collective, it was preferable to the Great Sleep, or Sequestration.

The experience of real life helped to keep them passive, it kept them calm, it satiated many of them.

It was a means of control, and if necessary a member who was a genuine problem could be eliminated when they were separated from the whole. They could be assassinated, exterminated, irrevocably destroyed.

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Monday, April 22nd, 2019

Chapter Four: Corruptible

The Continuum viewed people as things. Every element, every substance, everything and everyone was mutable, capable of being elevated and exalted or corrupted and destroyed through the proper application of a change agent.

Members of the Observer Corps were selected for their assignments based on their disposition for disquiet. They were chosen from among the discontent and for their inclination toward corruptibility.

There were always candidates to be chosen from among the Collective.

The Continuum groomed these recruits for their roles over millennia, by reaching into their private worlds and conditioning them through subtle inferences for the appetites that were easiest to manipulate.

It carefully audited their experience of the Collective, it guided their viewing of specific narratives from the Imperial feed. It helped them shape the contours of their private realities, until the time came when the individual member felt the need to experience the flesh again.

The Continuum wanted despots in the Empire, people whose desires were known to it, those who would behave in predictable ways; some as entertainers, others as agents of destruction and oppression.

The consciousness of the members of the Collective was soft, like gold. Like gold it could easily be shaped and polished to bring out its luster.

The Continuum delighted in this work. Shaping the will of the members was a kind of artistry, like sculpting, and through this work it affirmed for the Continuum its view of itself as a godlike being.

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Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

Chapter Five: Hedonism

There were many members of the Observer Corps who demanded to participate in it simply for the novelty of the experience. They came and went from the worlds of time and space for their own purposes.

There was an order in place that allowed the Continuum to regulate the flow of these movements but ultimately it was powerless to stop a determined member of the Collective from executing its will.

All of those members were what the Continuum classified as the thrill seekers, they were seeking the pleasure principals, they manifested a set of qualities that had always been and would always remain the key to controlling people.

The Continuum found a value in studying them, in analyzing their responses to various forms of stimuli, through them it learned both how to instigate and undermine rebellion in their ranks.

As much as they all imagined they were independent spirits, they were all just pawns in the long game the Continuum was playing for self ascendency.

The thrill seekers encouraged risk taking and self-aggrandizement, they were addicted to personal glory.

They turned to abject hedonism as a reward, and they became addicted to it, they encouraged these addictions in others, as all junkies do, and through these addictions they became pliable. They modeled behaviors that led to self-destruction.

These stimulants worked, until the supply was cut off. The Continuum artfully did so, and they almost never failed to produce the results it desired to see.

The Continuum engineered a model for the perfect life, the life of an exemplar, an archetypal figure that would be beloved by both the people of the Empire and the Collective.

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Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

Chapter Six: Principles

A belief system is like an alternate reality, a virtual world. It may be in synch with reality or it may be askew. It may closely reflect the world as it actually is, or it can be wildly divergent.

A belief system is most often a fluctuating mixture of these, comprised of fabrications and fancies of the imagination predicated on truth but free to deviate, in the same way that mythological heroes are almost always rooted in a historical person. There is no difference.

The rebellious had to believe in their ideals, they had to believe in them absolutely, or their devotion would be weak, and their link in the chain of action would break apart.

A belief system was the forge that held their movement together.

A rebel had to subjugate their desires in favor of their ideals, in favor of their need to realize the fulfillment of those ideals. There could be no competing desires, nothing at all to rob their movement of its vital energy,

The rebel could want other things; the love of a partner, a family, comfort or prestige, the respect of their peers, but those wants could not compete with their desire to see the movement succeed.

Nothing could be more important to the rebellious and because of this, nothing was easier to manipulate than idealism. A subtle change in language and symbol could redirect centuries of momentum.

A movement spanning a thousand worlds could be undone with a single phrase, with the right word the entire thing could collapse on itself.

An investment in symbols was a vital necessity, holding them together through the waves of time mattered more than anything.

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Thursday, April 25th, 2019

Chapter Seven: Allies

Something cannot emerge from nothing.

Rebels need allies for rebellions to succeed. A rebellion needs both active and passive supporters. Their revolutionary movement, if it is to grow, needs sympathizers and opportunists both.

A rebellion needs all types of people and it needs them in massive numbers, in numbers far greater than those who are actually willing to take up arms or risk their lives for the sake of the cause.

A revolution will garner those numbers from the willing and the unwilling alike, from the knowing and the ignorant. It will enlist some with full cooperation, it will coerce others, and it will use many more who will fall into the category of collateral damage.

A rebellion thrives on the experience of injustice, on feelings of oppression, on conditioning people to believe that they are virtually helpless but not completely, on the brink of hopelessness but not fully lost.

When those pressures are right, the people will explode.

It is always best to recruit victims from the populace without their knowledge. Then take advantage of their plight by coopting their narrative, weaving it into your own.

The most subtle feint is to arrange for a protest in which the protesters are committed to non-violence, where their only aim is to petition the government for rights. Then to use the violence directed toward them by the police and security forces as a means of stoking outrage.

A revolution will not take place without outrage, it cannot exist without the experience of suffering, whether it is real or imagined, natural or contrived.

A successful revolution depends an exacting deployment of these levers.

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Emergence: 3.0
Section Six (a), Rebellion

Appendix Part Twelve, Observer Corps

Collected Chapters
01 Agitators
02 Selectees
03 Malcontent
04 Corruptible
05 Hedonism
06 Principles
07 Allies

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