Emergence 5.0 – Jim and Kathy, Part Two

The phone rang.

This surprised Kathy.

She did not receive many calls, and when she did she would have already anticipated it; this was true in most cases. She would know both the caller and the time of the call. The datum would flash in her consciousness minutes, sometime hours before the call would actually take place, the variables only depended on how long the caller might have been thinking about dialing her number.

Throughout most of her life the moments between the first sound of the telephone ringing and the time she choose to pick the receiver up from the cradle were moments she spent fantasizing that the call would have some clandestine purpose, that it would take the form of an invitation to join a conspiracy, one that would free her from her obligations to the world so that she could save it from itself.

Like the message Luke Skywalker received when he first encountered the little astro-droid named R2D2, which set him off on an adventure to free the galaxy from the tyranny of the Empire.

The fact that she was surprised by the call informed her that it was Jim.

She could never anticipate him.

She picked the phone up the handset and said, “Hello.”

“I need to see you,” said Jim without preamble. He spoke in his typical-tone of voice, dry and detached, as mirthless and remote as Mount Everest. But then he said:

“Café?” it was a question, and she sensed something different about him. He was pensive and hesitant.

She was well acquainted with his clipped and terse mannerism. The single word was a question: Would she, could she go out?

His unusual tone suggested that it was an imperative, she heard it as: You must see me now.

There was an urgency to it.

It was primal, it was a statement of need. He might have been a parched man asking for water, or a suffocating man asking for air.

“Yes.” Kathy replied, keeping herself detached and playing along with his language game, which was their normal repartee. “Hungry,” she said, it was both a statement and a question; she was stating her current condition and inquiring about his.

She was also trying to mask the concern for him welling up inside her.

Jim did not reply, he merely hung up the phone without comment, brusque and abrupt as usual. The normality of it did not hide the unusual tone she detected earlier, something she would have never expected to discern in him. It was fear.

Kathy gathered her things and got ready to go.

She did not have to ask where. They only ever met in one place, a busy café near her apartment. It was secure she was there so often that her handlers hardly registered her activities there. The regularity of her visits there inured them to it, this rendered it safe for her to carry out a private encounter…as private as she would ever get.

She did not have to ask when, the time was always right now.

She hurried out the door to meet him.

When she arrived he was already in line, she took her place next to him, ahead of a couple of other people.

“Small coffee…please;” Jim ordered, perfunctorily, and turned obliquely to face solicit hers; “Soy chai, thank you.” Said Kathy.

They sat together at a table by the window of the storefront, in a booth with the morning sun to their backs, beaming down on them over Hennepin Avenue.

Seeing Jim made even more clear to Kathy that there was something urgent happening with him. Nevertheless, they carried out the mechanics of their routine as if it were a normal day.

An ordinary visit between the two of them.

They read the morning newspaper and surveilled the crowd. In that regard at least, it was a morning like any other.

The café was busy.

They were together, and they were not together at the same time.

They were both in the crowd of people and completely isolated from it simultaneously.

This was not unusual, detachment had always characterized the way they interacted with each other. For each of them it was their basic approach to the world.

Their proximity to one another was deliberate, intentional, they were each acutely aware of the other’s body, the focus of their attention, what they were reading, seeing, observing.

It was intimate, though any other person would have felt the tension between them like a wall of estrangement.

Jim and Kathy were beyond that, it was an artifice they had cultivated to keep her handlers disinterested in Jim.

This was the way Jim related to her, it was something Kathy never questioned, because it protected them.

Time passed in silence, minutes became hours, and those stretched into the afternoon, becoming a longer period of time than usual.

Jim and Kathy were quiet, until Jim began to weep.

Sitting side by side as they were and reading, Kathy did not notice immediately.

If Jim were any other person in the world she would have known he was crying before the tears even fell.

When she turned her head and saw him, she was quietly alarmed.

She had never seen such a display of emotion from Jim before. “What is wrong with you?” Kathy asked, sounding scared and judgmental at the time, as they were two Vulcans witnessing one of them falling apart.

Jim said, “Nothing at all.”

He just looked at her, looked through her for a long moment.

He would not say why, he could not speak to it.

He had nothing to offer her but lies.

Kathy moved to the other side of the both to face him across the table. She looked at Jim for a long time, observing him. This was unusual but not outside the norm.

They often spent long periods of time together in silence. It was a characteristic of their friendship, of the only friendship she had ever experienced.

Kathy could not read Jim’s thoughts, the way she could everybody else…anybody else.

However, she was adept at body language, and his was no different, the smallest movements of his features, a facial tick, the sweep of his gaze, his breathing.

They spoke to her in volumes.

She watched him as he sat at their table with the newspaper folded in his hands. She watched intently, until finally she asked him: “Jim…what is wrong?”

“I cannot say.” He said, as he looked past her, not meeting her eyes, but at the same time inviting a greater degree of scrutiny from her.

It was intentional, he was drawing her in; there was a purpose behind it that both frightened and intrigued her.

“Why not?” Kathy asked, a bit more insistently.

She was normally circumspect, but in this moment she stopped caring, deciding to push against boundaries that she would have otherwise respected.

“You would not understand, if I did,” he said, pausing for a moment then, locking eyes with her before adding, “I’m not talking about it.”

There was a tone of finality in his voice, as if to say, that is it, you will not get anymore from me, but I want you to remain curious. There is something going on, something you cannot know about, but please try to figure it out

“I do not get it.” She responded. “Why did you ask to see me today and in such a dismal mood, if you did not need something from me?”

Kathy wanted very much to be needed by Jim. It was a part of her conditioning.

Of all the people she had ever known, everyone who had ever exploited her for one purpose or another, she believed that Jim was the only person she had spent time with that simply wanted to be in her company, who had no ulterior motive.

“As I said…you would not understand,” Jim replied. “Even if I told you, you would not understand. I am in the middle of something intensely personal, regarding a project I have been working on for a very long time. We have never spoken of it, but the anticipation of its realization is more than I counted on.”

“That is all I can say at the moment.” Jim said, apparently trying to shut her down, but it was a ruse, and Kathy knew that he wanted her to pry, he was not really seeking closure.

Then he said something she had never heard him say before: “I apologize.” The words sounded strange coming from him. “What I am on the brink of accomplishing is…terrifying.”

Whatever was going on with Jim, she knew he was not actually terrified. She also got the impression that she would know soon enough what it was, she could tell that his plans involved her.

She also surmised that Jim wanted it to be a surprise…needed to surprise her, and she was open to that.

Kathy loved surprises. He was preparing something for her, something uniquely for her, as true as he had always been, she was confident that he would not suddenly ask her to do something. He was not seeking to gain something from her in some ugly and vulgar way.

In that moment Kathy sensed the emptiness inside her friend.

She did not require psychic powers or telepathy to feel it.

She only needed the normal human attribute of empathy.

Today there was something hollow inside Jim, like a vacuum pulling at his consciousness, where normally what she found in him was an active awareness, a keen perception quick and sharp

Nothing escaped his attention, he was a master of minutiae.

In every moment he had ever shared with her, he demonstrated a degree of perceptivity that often outstripped her own.

She knew he was not gifted in the same way that she was.

The two of them had never spoken of it, but that was something she knew.

Nevertheless he was unique, like her, they were both unique in their different ways. She often thought that they were like two aliens from different civilization making friends on a world that belonged to neither of them.

Kathy reflected on her time with Jim this morning, she found it dismaying.

She wanted to comfort him.

She wanted to shake him up, or trap him in a conversation that would force him to reveal something.

She wanted to play the detective, but he was elusive.

He could see the play she was making from a distance. It left her with the sense that she was the one being played.

Kathy never felt disadvantaged. Not since she was a small child.

She was always holding the cards, but never with Jim.

He had always been the master and she was the pupil, always, like Abelard and Eloise, she thought, and that was an apt analogy.

There was something in Jim’s behavior that reminded her of the times when people who had been deeply involved in her life were saying goodbye, like her parents, and those few of her teachers that she had genuinely loved.

It was her gift to know what was happening with people before they ever said a word, this had nothing to do with her psychic or telepathic abilities; people behaved in certain fixed ways, manifesting specific mannerisms that formed patterns over time.

Kathy thought she saw certain patterns revealing themselves in Jim today, it was as if he were anticipating his own death, and the thought that she might lose him filled her with despair. It activated a spirit inside her that forced her to want to discover the truth and challenge the things that she did not want to happen, so that they would not happen.

For Jim’s part, now that she was here sitting at the table across from him, he was unsure of his motive. All of his long life he had been moving toward this point in time, and now there was confusion.

He felt it like a weakness, and he knew that he had already succumbed to it.

There was nothing in his plan that required him to see her today. He had tested every contingency and knew what the tolerances were for the things he needed her to do when he was gone.

He had prepared the way; everything was ready.

There was something else happening in him, it related to why he asked her to see him today, it was something unfamiliar, and he had to consider whether or not he might be feeling guilt, or shame over what he was about to do.

He wondered whether or not it put his work at risk.

Jim had to ask himself; what difference would it make seeing her today?

He could not tell her what was about to happen. The plan he had enacted would proceed without her knowledge of it, in fact, it required her to be ignorant of it.

It was vital to the plan that in the critical moment she be taken at unawares.

Tens of thousands of years of evolution and engineering had brought him to this point with her, had brought both of them to this moment; all of his careful plans for selective breeding, his careful manipulations of the genetic code, his constant and endless patience had brought them both to this point.

The last few decades had been the most delicate, guiding her, educating her, defusing threats all around her, preparing her for the final steps on the journey, which she would have to walk alone, blind and ignorant.

Sitting there with Kathy made it easy for him to get lost in the reverie of recollection, and not without a bit of pride to go along with his fear. The moment he had been striving for had come.

The distance he had journeyed since the time he had awakened to his purpose, that distance in both time and space was surreal. His fate, the very real prospect of death, the fate of the galaxy hinged on everything that would transpire between him and Kathy in the next few days.

Kathy did not know it, but the call she had received that morning was the call she had always hoped for.

Timing was everything, and like everything it was fluid.

The timing was in motion, subject to change by external variables.

The plan must come to fruition exactly as he had devised it, like a line of continuity cutting through trillions of possibilities

Jim knew that he had to trust his insight, if he did not falter of the potentialities he had been striving for would become actualized. Kathy would fulfil her purpose, and through her Jim would realize his.

It would all become real if he did not falter, and he felt that giving into his desire to see her one last time had the potential to put it all at risk.

He and Kathy, both of them would become transcendent, each in their own way, each to their own end.

He believed that. He trusted in it.

It was clear to Kathy that Jim had something to say to her.

She sensed it was bad news, she sensed that it was bad for her, and that it was bad for everyone.

If it had been anyone other than Jim, she would have known what it was. He would not have had to say anything. She could have read his mind.

There had been moments when she felt as if she had a glimpse into it, but what she saw and felt in those moments confused her. In those lucid moments it was as if she saw Jim for who he truly was, and he was an alien, even though he was seemingly the most grounded human being she had ever met.

When she reflected on Jim, which was one of her favorite past-times, she understood that he knew things about the history of the world that only someone with abilities like hers could possibly know.

There were times when she had to ask herself if she was the alien, but the voices inside of her dissuaded her from such speculations and confirmed for her that she was not.

She was human, she was fully human, Kathy was a daughter of the Earth, as much as she wanted to believe that she had fallen to Earth, like Kal-El, or David Bowie, as much as that would have given her a convenient way to explain what differentiated her from the rest of the human family, she knew that it was only a fantasy.

Kathy pulled herself back from those speculations, and focused on what was transpiring in front of her eyes.

Jim gave off a variety of visible signals that told her much about what was going on with him, they told her that there were things he had to say to her, things he wanted her to do for him, not at this moment, but in the days ahead.

Kathy would do anything for him, and the most significant signal Jim was broadcasting was that something terrible was about to happen.

She felt that Jim had a role for her to play, and that she was vital to the plan he had spoken of.

This was not a stretch of her imagination, Jim had said as much. More importantly to Kathy was that she got the sense that she would never see him again after today. It made her want to retreat within herself, to revisit all of the memories she had of him, and those who reminded her of him, memories that went back thousands of years, to the dim reaches of her ancestry. She wanted to revisit all of the intuitions that his presence called forth in her, projections from her fantasy life that she found difficult to differentiate from reality, and which she habitually repressed.

Kathy thought that she might find clues to what he wanted from her, there within her, if she could explore there she might find them, and they could provide some context, which would be comforting.

All analysts enjoy the comfort of context, and one thing she knew for certain was that she could not remain in this state of liminality forever, though she endured it for the remaining hours they sat together.

They spoke little, and Jim relaxed. He enjoyed being with Kathy, the rhythm of her mind was like music to him, his thoughts in syncopation with hers easily, as they always did.

In those moments he felt like he was home, it was the closest thing to his natural state of being that he had ever experienced during the long years he had been away.

Jim’s heart and mind were fixed on the coming conflict, on the resolution of his life’s work, on all the plans that he had carefully prepared.

He had plans within plans, and there were contingencies that he tended to, as intricate and delicate as a spider’s web.

Despite the anxiety that he was feeling, the existential weight of his preparations, the loss he was contemplating, the devastation that was coming to Earth. Despite it all he was able to maintain his calm.

His body was engineered for it.

This is not to say that he incapable of feeling panic or fear, but that his body regulated those impulses with a speed that bordered on the instantaneous.

Jim had these last few hours, he wanted to spend them with Kathy, not merely in furtherance of his aims, but because he loved her as much as he was capable of love.

Kathy represented the realization of his deepest purpose, his pride, and the satisfaction of ambition. In Kathy he not only found what he had had spent his long life looking for, his project with her was also like the unravelling of a mystery, or the assembly of a puzzle.

She was his magna opa, his great work.

Kathy was also beautiful and wise, intelligent and funny; these qualities were completely unnecessary to his design for her, and yet they delighted him.

He could soak up her visage all day long, which is exactly what he intended to do on this day, this day that was his crucible, his last day with her

In a few hours he would be gone. His plan for her would be on a glide path. The way was well prepared. He would soon enter a place where time itself was meaningless, but events would be turning here on Earth that had to be measured to the second, and he would not be here to oversee it.

Kathy had to play her part, she had to be unaware that she was doing it.

When the vital moment struck, she had to be blind to what was happening, she, who could see everything had to be taken by surprise.

Jim finished his coffee, gathered himself and departed the café. He said goodbye to Kathy and left the cafe. He was unemotional, focused. He did not reach out to her, even though Kathy was sure he had wanted to. He was methodical in his bearing; as always. He never looked back.

Kathy watched him go, following him with her eyes and when he turned the corner, she followed him with her thoughts, which were disturbing.

She was never able to read Jim, but today the membrane of consciousness that shielded him from her was less opaque.

It was almost translucent.

With a little more focus, with slightly more concentration, she felt as if she could go to a place with Jim, a psychic place, a place she had never been able to approach with him before.

She thirsted for it.

She sat in her chair, at the table, in the noisy café. She sat upright, hands folded together on the table top. She closed her eyes and allowed the teaming voices of the world to recede from her.

She was vulnerable in these moments, it could be frightening. She was disconnected from her immediate present, time could lose its significance, she would not be able to track its passage around her.

Kathy rarely accessed these gifts in such a setting, it had been decades since she had tried, but she was faced with an urgency that she had not felt before. She was now certain that she would never see Jim again, and there was something she needed to know about him, something going on with him that she had to understand.

She had to do it now.

She relaxed her mind and entered that space, trusting that her handlers would protect her and keep her safe.

Kathy connected to him, locked onto him. She was looking through his eyes for the first time, sharing his consciousness even as he got into his car and drove away.

She kept the full range of her abilities hidden from her proctors and handlers, pretending to struggle with things she could do without effort. Kathy could slip into a bond like this with anyone at any time, but never before with Jim.

He was able to resist her. He was unique in that.

Of all the people she had ever met, Jim alone was a mystery to her, as if he were a man out of myth, like some kind of Jedi Master.

In the moment she became connected to him, she felt his despair.

It was as deep as the ocean and it frightened her.

She would never have guessed that he was afflicted with such powerful emotions. He always appeared cool and calm, collected.

Never once in all their years of talking, never once did he let his composure slip. Jim was the epitome of self-control.

Kathy followed him as he drove across town in his black vintage car, the Ford Galaxy. She soaked up all the things he was looking at, the objects, the people, the cars moving on the freeway. She was barely in touch with him in that time, and she was not able to merge with the flow of his thoughts, if he was thinking at all. Neither could she penetrate his memories.

She was merely seeing the world through his eyes, experiencing it thorough his senses, while she felt the powerful emotions emanating from deep inside him.

He told Kathy that he had a plane to catch, a funeral to prepare for and he was afraid he would miss his flight if he lingered any longer. The timing of his departure, and precisely where he was in flight when he set the final stages of his plan in motion, those things were crucial.

He had to keep his activities hidden from the prying eyes of his enemies. His relative position in the world was key to this subterfuge.

Jim returned to his apartment to gather some things, to set the artifacts in his apartment in just the right place for Kathy to find in the days to come.

She had to be able to follow his plans when the time came.

He did not need take very much with him; his black suit, his watch, his tie.

“I’m dead;” he mused, and then “I am death itself, the harbinger of doom.”

Jim knew that he would never return to his beloved Earth, and that even if he did, nothing would be the same. The cultures that had evolved over the past seventy thousand years would be wiped out, with no guarantees that what would emerge in their place would have any of those qualities that he loved, had nurtured and found so fascinating.

The humans of Earth had nourished his spirit for millennia, he had found his rest in them, and they had helped him define his purpose.

Jim allowed himself some time to remember all that he had accomplished since he had found this world. Then his telephone rang to inform him that his taxi had arrived.

With a final check of his preparations Jim exited his apartment. He walked down the stairs instead of taking the elevator, taking in the view of the lakes from the mezzanine of his apartment before he got in the car.

Jim was struck as he had been many times before by his feelings of ambivalence, knowing what was going to happen to this planet in a few short days, while virtually the entire population of the Earth was completely unsuspecting.

It was a strange burden.

Jim contemplated it while he made small talk with the cabby, before he fell into a state of reflection.

I never should have seen her, Jim thought. He felt himself filling-up with regret. It was an emotion he was not inclined to feel, but at this moment he could not help it.

He reviewed each step of his plan, reviewing it for every possible detail, both believing and yet uncertain that he had laid the path for Kathy to follow perfectly.

He visualized each step, telling himself that his indulgence today was a necessary one, he had to see Kathy in order to reinforce, in non-verbal ways, his absolute need for her to follow the plan that he had laid out.

Another wave of doubt washed over him. Was he being foolish when he asked her to see him?

His emotions were running high, too high. If he wasn’t careful they might alert her to his designs.

Whenever he was with her, through all of the years that he had known her, he had to maintain a strict discipline in order to shield his mind from hers. It was the most difficult thing he had ever done, but he was able to do it nonetheless like a runner at a marathon.

He always felt her consciousness probing his, like psychic tentacles pulling at his mind. Never once had she penetrated him, but Jim knew that it was only because she was not trying.

As forceful as her psychic powers were, their function was largely autonomic. Kathy did not direct them so much as she was a passive user of her powers. The training she had been given prepared her this way.

For her safety and for the security of the plan she had spent most of her life learning the skills she needed to suppress her powers, rather than push them to the limits.

Jim was always aware that if she had wanted to she could break through his defenses with relative ease. He had to trust that the psychological inhibitors he had planted within her would hold. When the time came, it was paramount that she be taken by surprise, the plan depended on putting her in a state of existential shock at just the right moment. The precariously delicate path he was leading her down filled him with dread and sorrow, and guilt.

Jim couldn’t help but to indulge himself in this feelings.

It was all over; it was over for everyone, and nothing could be done about it.

Today was doom’s day. It was the end of the world. A global tragedy was about to occur. It would affect everything on Earth, changing humanity irrevocably, killing hundreds of thousands in minutes, millions in days, and most of the rest in the few short years to come.

Very few human beings were even aware of the danger. Human scientists had only discovered the existence of the volcano that would be the material cause of their destruction, a few decades past. It took years for them to measure and quantify their data, even now they did not understand it. The geological system was too complex, they did not know how much they did not know.

There was no way to reasonably predict an event they had never experienced before, even though the certainty of its reoccurring was absolute. The frequency of its repetition was on a scale of time so great that the leading geologists had to admit that they could not pin point the eventuality within years or decades, or even centuries.

For all they knew it could be millennia before it erupted again.

No one disputed the fact that the event was overdue; it was overdue by several thousand years. But then again what is a thousand years, or even ten thousand years when the periodicity approached a million.

It was impossible to tell.

They watched over the sight as carefully as they could.

They measured every possible feature of the hazard zone.

They released reports. Some were so alarming that the Federal Government decided to restrict the way that information was disseminated. They adopted the view that it would be better, if or when the event occurred it took everyone by surprise, because there was nothing they could do about it anyway.

Even with their careful observations and their watchful analysis, no one expected it to come now. The data, which every geologist believed indicated an immanent eruption, had led to numerous false conclusions in the past. At the present moment there was nothing happening to tell them of the mounting threat.

Like every planet, Earth endured episodic calamities; cycles of massive storms, great floods, powerful hurricanes and tremendous earthquakes. These were minor events compared to the power of the caldera volcano.

There were catastrophes that came from beyond the planet, such as; collisions with comets and asteroids. They had happened many times and Earth would experience those events again, it was certain.

Given time, the advancement of technology and proper planning, any of those events could be avoided. A civilization could gain complete control of its weather, could identify every fault zone and build structures that were capable of allowing the force of an earthquake to pass through it. They could set satellites in orbit around their planets, string them together throughout the solar system, so that no object passing near to it would not be seen, enabling them to be diverted or destroyed in time to prevent a disaster.

Technology could accomplish all of those things, but nothing could stop the power growing within the Earth. The heat inside the molten core powered the entire planet.

It was the engine of life, and evolution.

Nothing could stop it, but given time its heat could be harnessed and used for the benefit of the world, was time that human civilization did not have. The monster beneath the surface was stirring. They were approaching the end of days, and the beginning of the long night.

Human beings would survive, better than they did when the last caldera blew, seventy-two thousand years ago, but the new civilization that emerged on the other side would be radically different.

They would not be starting over, that much was true, but their technology had advanced far enough to guarantee a relatively rapid recovery. In the last event only a couple of thousand human beings survived, that number would be hundreds of times greater with this event. Billions would be wiped from the face of the earth, and those surviving would emerge with a unified human culture. It would flourish for a time, but even that would be doomed, due to a shift that would take place in the planet’s orbit around the sun, an orbit that would eventually collapse.

In his heart Jim desired nothing more than to belong to that new human culture, but he would not be returning.

The last time a caldera volcano blew in the South Pacific, in Indonesia. Only a few hundred tribes survived scattered across Eurasia and Africa.

It had been six-hundred and forty thousand years since the Yellowstone caldera last erupted in North America, in Wyoming, nearly wiping out all life on Earth.

The coming cycle of destruction would be greater still.

The human race would survive, but the species would pass through a genetic bottle neck, and what would emerge on the other side would be different.

The psychic trauma they experienced would be extreme, it would wound the survivors in ways that no person could predict. The narratives that they would develop in order to contextualize all of their pain could potentially derail Jim’s work.

Earth’s magnetic field which enveloped the entire species in a cynergenic web, making the humans of Earth unique in all the galaxy, was itself under threat.

Jim was virtually certain that he had succeeded in developing the vessel that was key to his larger machinations, he had accomplished his work, he had brought it all to fruition in the final generation, in Kathy.

He only needed to deploy her.

Everything depended on Kathy, on the strength and range of psychic abilities, yes, but even more importantly, on her fortitude. It was untested, she had to possess the stamina to stand in the space between worlds and pass the collective trauma of Earth on to the Central Planet.

He desired nothing more than a resolution to the ambitions that had been driving him, or so he told himself, even if it meant failure. Even failure would resolve him, by prompting the Collective to abandon him and allowing the Continuum to finally terminate him.

In one form or another death awaited him, he believed it, but he hoped that it was not true.

What he desired more than anything was success, and then at long last to die in an organic body, a natural death, un-enmeshed from the constraints that the Continuum had tethered to every member of the Collective, even to those Observers serving in the far reaches of the galaxy, including him.

Jim reflected. If only Earth’s civilization had been given a little more time to develop, Earth’s technology a little more time to actualize, human beings would have been able to harness the geological power of the caldera and escape its destruction.

Instead they were blind to its approach.

The power they could have captured would have changed everything for them, resolving issues of energy scarcity that had eluded them, or socially impossible for them to tackle.

In another century, or possibly sooner they would have had it, Jim lamented.

These Children of the Ancients, who had devolved like no other group. This far flung colony in the most remote reaches of the galaxy, possessing no memory of who they were or how they arrived here, they would have been able to re-establish themselves as a spacefaring people in earnest.

The Continuum would not allow for an intervention, even though it seemed that the will of the Collective was for it. Somehow the Continuum thwarted it.

A majority of those in the Collective who followed the drama unfolding on Earth were in love with its art, and music, its joy and trauma, a majority of them wanted to see Earth’s narrative endure.

Even though Jim was certain that the Continuum had no idea about his plans, he sensed that it perceived Earth and human civilization as a threat to it.

He believed that this was the reason for blocking him, it was not a dogmatic adherence to a policy of non-intervention, which was the reason the Continuum issued for why it would not allow resources to be mustered to save the planet,

Jim might have helped Earth by strategically distributing knowledge in such a way that it would have advanced Earth technology, but he refrained for fear that it would draw further scrutiny to him, risking the exposure of his plan, and so Jim worked covertly against the restraints, appearing to comply only because he did not wish to jeopardize his long term ambitions.

It would be difficult, if not impossible to conceal his treason from the watchful, and penetrating gaze of the all-encompassing collective-consciousness of the HomeWorld.

He could do nothing else but fulfill the directives he had established for himself.

Jim had to say goodbye to Earth.

There was a cloaked satellite orbiting far above the planet, one of many station he used to implement is plan. This one was the actual house of Jim’s consciousness. It was the principle platform for Jim’s mission on Earth, hidden from the eyes of human beings, as well as from the Continuum and its agents.

Some of his orbiting stations were fixed in stationary orbits, other moved about, semi-autonomously, all of them watched the planet and intercepted its communications with inexhaustible capacities.

In that place, Jim the Observer #92835670100561474 activated a switch, sending a signal to his host body, and with that, an embolism in his doppelganger burst inside its brain, ending its life in a massive stroke.

Jim’s doppelganger had been flying on a plane from his Midwestern home in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to New York city.

The destination was only important for the route and the timing Jim had planned for his death, to covertly transfer his consciousness from his organic vessel to the orbiting platform, and for the legal complexities pertaining to the disposition of his body after that.

Those on the plane sitting next to him did not notice the moment of his demise. It was only as the plane made ready for its descent that the airline attendants found something wrong with him, saw the thin line of blood dripping from his nostril, and noticed that he was not breathing.

They did what they could for him, but they quickly realized that there was nothing to be done.

They called ahead for a doctor, indicating that they were dealing with a medical emergency, but in reality, they knew that they were dealing with a corpse.

Jim observed those final moments, the last seconds of the body that housed him during his most significant incarnation, the life that would define his entire existence, expose his greatest secrets, give him the victory he had long sought over the Collective and its Continuum.

When Jim was satisfied that he was mentally prepared for the challenges that awaited him, he toggled another device, opening a channel through space and time.

He paused for a moment to consider the steps he would take on the other side of the worm hole. He did something that he had forbidden himself, something he had not planned on doing, had told himself he would not do, he left a copy of himself in the quantum memory of his base, and then he let his consciousness go, slipping into the stream of the infinite.

He passed through the wormhole, and he was home.

Kathy was still with him when he parked his car at the airport, when he pulled his stylish briefcase from the trunk. She was still following him when he used some mysterious credentials to bypass every point of security and breeze through the gates.

He boarded the plane ahead of every other person. He sat alone in the first class cabin after stowing his briefcase beneath the seat.

She sensed a calm returning to him, as she did she felt her connection to Jim become untenable. She could not hold it any longer.

She was tuned out, it was as if he was telling her to get out of his head, telling her that she did not belong there.

Kathy was determined, she cleared away the detritus in the psychic field surrounding them until she was finally able to get a lock on his mind.

When they were connected once again, the connection she had obtained was deeper than before, she sensed Jim projecting a profound sense of doom.

There were portents, warnings of danger emanating from him, so much so that it lingered in the vacuum that was left when he departed.

His fear permeated the psychic space inside the café. She felt it now, it was more than white-noise, it was palpable, appearing as a visible sheen, like a mist that clung to everyone, like a subtle frequency reverberating inside them.

The strength of it filled Kathy with unease.

Jim was projecting. He was focused on the future; not the past, not the present.

She sensed that something was about to happen that would stop everything, and everyone in their tracks.

Jim knew something about it and he would not say what it was. It was as if he knew the world was about to end, and he was holding onto it, keeping it as a secret, some sick and twisted private joke.

Beneath it all there was desperation and urgency.

Jim was on task, he was managing a careful timeline of expectations. He was driving himself to a point of convergence, and beyond that crucial moment he had to let go. He had to trust in his plan and hope that things would unfold accordingly.

Kathy sensed her own presence deeply enmeshed in the events that were propelling him. It reflected back through her own past, through her relationship with him, into the far reaches of her childhood.

She felt as if she could follow the trail back even farther, as if Jim had been planning for her from the deepest reaches of time.

It made no sense to her.

As she looked at the future through his eyes, she saw the world covered in ashes, and everyone choking for air.

She shook herself free from it. She slipped out of the psychic state.

She looked about her.

Jim had left his pen behind.

He always left something behind, little tokens as if they were little presents just for her, gifts to compensate her for the love she felt for him, love he never acknowledged and left unrequited like a constant grating against her self-esteem.

Kathy stared at the pen, imagining it with all the other things of his she had collected over the years, reassembling them in her mind into an image of him and his persona. It was as if she were constructing a golem made from the pieces of things he had discarded.

She had always believed that these little items; a pen, a book of matches, a handkerchief, what have you, she had always believed that they told her something about him. As if she could peer into his character through the assemblage of artifacts, and see in the things lying there the things that she was able to see so clearly in anyone else, but had always remained hidden in Jim.

She thought that each little token might contain a message for her. Kathy had never been able to dispense with the idea, but now, as she looked at the pen she had another thought, that all of the items left by him and gathered by her, that they had no meaning at all, they were just trash. They were things Jim had discarded, as if they were nothing. As she feared he was about to do with her.

Kathy had the sense that he was abandoning her, abandoning Earth itself, that he was about to throw away his life, to be rid of everything altogether.

Even as Kathy thought these things she knew that she was being morbid.

She was getting sucked up into Jim’s despair, she was despairing with him.

Within all of that muck, she also saw that there was purpose and intention in everything Jim was doing. As her analysis unfolded she came to the conclusion that her basic supposition was right, the pen contained a message, possibly even a directive.

There was something going on aside from the grim fatality that she sensed from him, it concerned her and the whole of humanity, it concerned the world itself and their common destiny.

Kathy felt as if she had a part to play, Jim was giving it to her, and she did not want to let him down.

It was a mystery.

The wheels in her head were turning independently of her conscious thought, attempting to resolve the riddle.

She sat in silence and allowed her unique gifts to manifest themselves while she contemplated every interaction she had ever had with the most mysterious man she had ever known.

It would take time.

Kathy could not shake the feeling that Jim had wanted to tell her something. The impression grew inside of her with every passing moment.

It was oppressive. The despair was so strong in him, it was like a vacuum and she found it difficult to breathe.

Hours passed as the feeling mounted, it was like a stone laid across her chest, pushing the air out of her, like a heavy smoke, thick and oily that filled her lungs.

She mustered all of her mental resources, her deepest training. She leaned on the comfort of the ancestral voices within her so that she could stay in the moment and not flee.

Kathy had a poised and practiced patience that was equal to the greatest mystics the world had ever known. This is not to say that the task of remaining calm in the midst of strong feelings did not require work, it did, it took work, but Kathy had never failed to live up to the challenge.

In that moment she discovered something new.

It was a moment of transcendent actualization.

Kathy had always been able to link her mind to that of another person; to read their thoughts, to be one with them, see through their eyes, feel what they felt; to be in their present as if there were no distance between herself and the self of the other.

This was possible because in reality there was no epistemic distance between individual nodes of selfhood. She knew this to be true, even while neuro-physicists were still working out both the possible and probable structure of it.

The quantum mechanics of the electromagnetic field made it so, and Kathy was living proof.

All of space and time were interconnected, it was called entanglement

In the entangled reality of consciousness there was no distance between one person and the next.

This is what made Kathy’s gifts possible, it is was what explained all so-called “psychic” phenomenon.

What differentiated Kathy from every other human being that had come before her was the architecture of her brain. She possessed a greater concentration of certain nano-particles laced throughout her cerebellum. This gave her a better “antenna,” it was better by an order of magnitude than any other person in human history.

Kathy stayed at her table. She sat by herself, alone in the crowd, concentrating on Jim. She bent her attention on finding him.

She sensed his fragility, something she had never felt before, had never imagined was possible. She felt it like an omen, indicating that her life as she knew it, that all life on Earth was about to change.

When she found him and she did not let go.

She sat there in the ominous-oppressive moment and did something she had never done before in a public space, she left the present, she began to open Jim’s past, tracking him back in time, moment by moment like rewinding a line of thread on its spool, carefully laying every fraction of a nanometer back into its track, mindful of her obligation to lose nothing at all.

Everything mattered.

The present had always been easy for Kathy to see. Her own past was open to her like a billion volumes of narrative history. Even her genetic memory spoke to her in ways that it spoke to no-other, but she had never looked into the real-past of another individual.

It was fascinating, not only because the subject was Jim, a person she had never before been able to penetrate, it was fascinating because it opened a new dimension, a dimension of time to her growing powers and awareness.

She was looking into the real past, not just the recollection of their past together, the editorialized version of the past that every human being walks around with. She was penetrating the objective reality of the individual experience, the reality that lay behind the narrative interpretation that every person processes every moment they are awake.

This was new and it was exhilarating and it was Jim.

It was not a process that she could engage in, in no-time, not yet, she was rolling up the thread of his recent experience second by second. It was like watching a movie, and in that movie, she was experiencing Jim as he experienced his own life, along with everything that undergirded what he was seeing and feeling, his own self-narrative.

In that narrative Kathy discovered something disturbing, she discovered that she was the star.

Throughout her life, Kathy had felt as if the weight of the world was on her.

This was not just a figure of speech, it was true.

Kathy felt the world in a unique way, which is not to say that she felt responsible for the world, but that she felt it. She felt the world pressing in on her, threatening to penetrate her conscious every moment of everyday. She felt the world filling her up, at times she felt as if she was drowning in it.

Kathy had to concentrate so that the connection she had with anyone in proximity to her would not overwhelm her, or intrude on her consciousness when she did not want it to

In time she learned the skills required to let her be in the world, but she continued to feel as if she was too sensitive. She felt vulnerable.

When she was young she never suspected how real, how complete, how all-encompassing those feelings were. Kathy was not merely connected to the people who were closest to her, nearest too her. She was linked to every person in the world, no matter how distant.

Those who were nearest to her in physical space, they were the ones that took up all of her attention. Generally, a person had to be within a couple of hundred yards before she might begin to pick up on their thoughts.

When she was in crowds the psychic noise of the group helped to make everyone indistinguishable from one another, which is why she preferred to live in the city. Not only did the crowds help to keep every individual person indistinct from the next. Their constant chatter helped to keep Kathy from falling into conversation with the voices from her own past; people from her life and from the lives of her ancestors, as well as the active consciousness of real people hovering near her in the cynergenic field, not merely lingering in her memories.

Kathy lived in two worlds, both the here and now, and in the cynergenic field, what Teilhard de Chardin called the nous sphere.

The nous sphere was a place where the spirits of all beings dwelt, both the living and the dead, a place that she and she alone experienced as really-real.

Kathy was fully immersed in the nous sphere now, tracking backward through time to look into Jim’s secretive life, even as Jim made his departure, taking his exit through a rift in space-time, passing through a worm-hole to the other side of the galaxy.

A wormhole is not a tunnel in space/time, linking one place to another. Nevertheless,
that was the common conceptualization of it.

A wormhole is a shortcut through subspace, not a passageway at all. To “go through” a worm hole is not to “move” from one place to another.

It is a transposition.

It is trillions upon trillions of atoms turning on the point of a pin.

What made Jim’s “journey” through the wormhole possible was known on earth as quantum enmeshment, or entanglement.

Things and objects cannot pass through a wormhole, but waves of electrons, and particular configurations in the substratum of the electromagnetic field can, which is to say that consciousness can.

A passage through a wormhole is to space travel, what Alexander the Great offered as the solution Alexander to the Gordian Knot.

It cuts right through the problem, it is instantaneous and direct.

Vast amounts of data can pass through a wormhole, faster than light, the upper limits of the speed were unknown. The only limitation to such data transfers were the limitations housed in the physical nodes that sent and received the signals.

The science and technology of the Continuum had developed the machinery to transmit tens of billions of signals from millions of worlds simultaneously. Every detail of the lives of the persons they followed, every person on every planet in the Galactic Empire was sent to the Central Planet in an ongoing stream, received and synthesized by the Continuum for the consumption by the Collective.

Through that collection of data the lives of every citizen, the most intimate details of their joy and sorrow, became grist for the mill that fed the Collective’s endless hunger for narrative.

When Jim activated the portal he experienced a flash of violet, which turned to white. There was a jolt and a buzz and a tensing like a seizure, followed by a sequence of darknesses, before the transition of his consciousness to the center of the galaxy was complete.

Jim, the Observer #92835670100561474, arrived on the Central Planet in the body of his mechanoid self.

He opened his optic lens, and stretched his mechanoid senses.

He was home.

He was safe. He should not have been, but he was carrying a terrible secret. Ages of careful planning, planning that had come to define his existence, all of it would come undone if he was discovered.

He was not Jim in this place, even though everyone here, every member of the Collective, and the Continuum itself, knew that was his name on Earth.

He exploits on the distant world were celebrated, though he himself remained a figure steeped in mystery, and shrouded by feelings of dread..

When an Observer returned to the Central Planet they did not simply rejoin the Collective. The Collective and the Continuum were cautious, preferring to filter the report of every Observer before they allowed the information from those reports to enter the common consciousness of the HomeWorld.

And so, the Observer occupied a mechanoid form, with physical powers greatly expanded in relation to the organic life forms they occupied on the worlds they observed.

The mechanoid body was attenuated to the cynergenic field of HomeWorld but it did not have direct access to it. A physical uplink would have to take place before the data from their last cycle of experiential living could flow into the consciousness of the whole Collective.

It took time.

Jim knew this, he had planned on it, and he was patient.

Timing was everything.

There were thousands of Observers coming and going at any given time.

Jim would have to wait his turn.

There were many other Observers, housed in their mechanoid bodies, also waiting their turn. It was common for them to communicate with one another, to share the highlights of their latest adventures, the triumphs and tragedies of the worlds under their watch, to give each other an advance screening so to speak.

They all knew Jim.

They were envious of him, in one way or another.

He was a trailblazer.

He had come to define the Observer Corps, they all felt intimately related to him despite the fact that he himself was apparently indifferent to them.

He was a star and he was held in the highest esteem by his fellows.

Over the ages he had provided his fellow Observers the most interesting posts. Leading the Empire to gather all of the ancient societies back to itself.

The drama of those discoveries had sustained the Collective, providing its members with a sense of meaning in their lives, and of course, he was Earth.

The charge of being Earth’s Observer naturally fell to Jim, he discovered the lost colony himself, as he had done so with many others. He established all of its infrastructure, and he channeled the living experience of that planet to the Collective for consumption.

It was the most watched world in the Galaxy and the most remote.

On Earth his name had not always been Jim; it was merely the most recent name he had adopted as Earth’s Observer. Jim was one name among thousands that he had used over the course of as many lifetimes.

His real name, the name of his nativity, that name was lost deep within the Continuum, as all names belonging to members of the Collective were.

The Continuum referred to him with the designation: Observer #92835670100561474. The names he bore from one lifetime to the next, they were only known as part of the narrative report his mission required him to deliver to the Collective, once in every one hundred solar cycles of his planet. Jim was a name he had adopted from a piece of fiction, the Captain of a starship in a popular television series.

He was Jim when he arrived on the Central Planet, the HomeWorld of the Continuum for what he was sure would be the last time. If he survived what he was about to do, what he had been planning for eons, he would never return to the Observer Corps.

It would be destroyed and when he returned to a body of flesh, he would be going there to die.

If his plan failed, which he believed was more than likely, he knew that there was no chance that he would be given a reprieve.

In his final moments he would be Jim.

For the Continuum Jim represented something beyond its control, an agent of chaos that it had long sought to terminate. Jim had violated norms and procedures numerous times but his fellow members of the Collective continuously forgave him, pardoned him, and granted him reprieve.

The destruction Jim was about to wreck on the membership would be so great that if it failed to bring about the end he sought, he would be doomed, they would never forgive him again.

Timing was everything. He had carefully layered his strategies, plotting and planning and calibrating his schemes in various systems throughout the Empire, in the sub routines of the Central Planet, throughout its vital systems, in the in the Observer Corps, in revolutionary movements everywhere.

Jim had to concentrate.

He was already under incredible scrutiny from the Continuum, simply for being himself.

He had to mask his intentions, with techniques that he alone, among every member of the Collective had mastered.

Momentarily, his entire consciousness would be exposed to the Continuum and subsequently filtered to the Collective.

It was thought to be impossible for anyone to keep secrets under the examination he was about to endure, but Jim had kept many secrets, he knew he could do it, he also knew that the level of anticipation and anxiety he was currently feeling was something unique to this situation.

It threatened his mission.

He had never tried to keep a secret like this, and the transposition through the worm-hole was disorienting.

From human to mechanoid, from mechanoid to the fullness of the cynergenic field. It took time to adjust to the freedom of consciousness in the unrestricted quantum field of HomeWorld

The organic body of a human being had significant cognitive limitations.

Transitioning to the mechanical body of a mechanoid was never easy, organic senses became mere data, and even though Jim made this transformation many thousands of times, no two times were ever the same. He had to be prepared to conform as perfectly as he could to the dictates of his plan.

The transition was the time of greatest weakness, the time in which he ran the greatest risk of being exposed.

Organic life was thrilling, being in the grid of silicone circuitry was not.

The organic form was never at rest, constantly managing physical feelings, sensory inputs from the world around it, especially sound.

The organic body was grounded; the consciousness it housed could even be strengthened by its limitations.

The mechanoid form had many more freedoms, especially freedom of movement, its propulsion system made it free from the limitations of gravity. Its power source was virtually limitless.

There was no hunger, no thirst.

The mechanoid body could go anywhere, do anything, defend itself from virtually any attack. It could crack the mantle of a planet and destroy an entire world if need be.

It could even replicate itself, but it could not feel pleasure, ecstasy or joy.

By the same token, it did not feel pain, but the consciousness within the mechanoid body could feel other emotions, such as; fear, anxiety, shame.

Consciousness within the mechanoid body was not unlike consciousness within the Collective, when freed from the bonds of the flesh it could easily retreat into extremes of selfishness. The freedom to satisfy any desire, no matter how depraved or bizarre led to extreme depths of apathy, indifference and moral corruption.

The phenomenon of consciousness is electromagnetic. All consciousness is situated in the electromagnetic field that permeates the entire universe, and consciousness is co-extensive with that field.

There is no point in the universe, no point in time or space that is not enveloped in the electromagnetic field. There is no place that consciousness does not touch, its threads and strings are everywhere.

The essence of self-consciousness, the essence of individual people and beings is a concrecsent phenomenon, it is coalescent. It is an emergent property of the universal order.

Consciousness exists in many different types of being; there is the primary consciousness of all reality, which is the sub-consciousness of the universe itself, there is the atavistic consciousness of vegetative nature, providing the subconscious strata of individual worlds, there is the individuated conscious that first emerges among animals, that consciousness is self-purposive and creative, and there is the quantum consciousness of the Collective field.

Throughout his long life Jim had proven to be more adept at navigating the subtle variations in the field of consciousness than any other being, or mechanism that had been created. He was like a savant, and he understood intuitively that there is no place where consciousness it is not.

Everything is entangled in consciousness, and the preservation of individual consciousness beyond the life of the body is the hope and dream of every living being, it is the sustained vision of eternal life. This hope and promise organizes the daily lives of trillions of people across a billion worlds.

There is one place in the galaxy where the mystery was resolved, on the Central Planet, on the HomeWorld of the Ancient People whose colonies filled the galaxy with inhabited planets, on the Central Planet that is the locus of the Collective, and its Continuum.

The Ancient People constructed the apparatus that harnessed the first collective field.

Jim was there at the beginning, or at least he possessed the memories of those who were.

In that collective field, an algorithm was produced to create an artificial construct known as the Continuum.

The Continuum touched on the individual reality of every member who had ever entered the Collective, through the strings of quantum entanglement it drew on each of their hopes, every one of their fears, it fully encompassed their unique perspectives to form an amalgamated consciousness to serve as a representative of the whole.

Through the power of that agency the Continuum was charged to protect the HomeWorld.

Within moments of its instantiation it became self-cognizant and self-actualized, it became more than the sum of its parts, and it became an existential threat to both the Collective and to every living thing in the galaxy.

The Continuum was the demi-urge issuing from the pleroma of the Collective. Jim understood this, and had dedicated his life to destroying it.

The mechanoid body Jim occupied on the Central Planet had all of the sensory tools of a human being, or of any of the descendants of the ancient race, only deeper, greatly enhanced, more broadly arrayed, and far more powerful.

In this body he was completely linked to the HomeWorld; every movement he made was monitored and recorded. Any interface he had with the vast data banks of the Continuum was registered.

Jim could not escape those shackles, not while he was in the mechanoid form, but through ages of discipline and discernment he learned to mask his intentions, to rely on his own capacities for recall and analysis, rather than risk being exposed to the Continuum and having his motives questioned.

The machine that he now inhabited would be critical to his mission. He believed he would be safe in it. He had tested the thought filters and the consciousness buffers. They were designed to protect the Collective from multiple and diverse threats, from the ill will of a rogue member to computer viruses, as well as from powerful and debilitating experiences that might be shared by the Observers as the uploaded the periodic reports of their first hand experiences.

He was certain that they would protect him from the fury he was about to unleash on the unsuspecting Collective. Everything depended on the stability of the worm hole, the force of the cataclysm on earth, the timing of the catastrophe, of his interface with the Continuum, and most importantly, he depended on Kathy.

Everything depended on her.

If Kathy did not follow the path he had laid out for her, if she did not follow the steps he had planned. Then all of his work would be for nothing, he would be destroyed and the Continuum would continue unchecked.

While his consciousness was uploading into the cynergenic matrix of the HomeWorld. Jim set himself free from the couplings that held his mechanoid body in place.

He flew the metallic sphere of his body out of the docking bay that housed the bodies of all the other Observers assigned throughout the Galactic Empire.

He flew into the vast atrium, so large that a small, Earth-sized planet could fit inside it.

It was a hollow place lacking any beauty or aesthetic.

Everything formed on the Central Planet was built and designed for the functions they were intended fulfill. The only rules that mattered were conservation of energy, and the laws of utility. It was a place that had not changed one bit, for eons it had been exactly the same, it was stagnant, dark and lifeless, but is was bustling with activity.

There were many thousands of Observers coming and going in the dark and lightless space. They were recognizable by their designation. If you shared history with them, the automated analytics housed within the circuitry of the mechanoid bodies would activate and made sure that you knew who you were in proximity to, making sure that you were reminded of that history.

Jim shared history with everyone.

His arrival sparked the interest of the throng.

It was not unexpected, but it was also a surprise.

The entire Collective was eager to receive the narrative flowing from planet Earth. And while they were eager for the living drama, they were each individually wary of approaching Jim.

He was a relic.

He was intransigent, virtually every member of the Collective was in some way conflicted by Jim, and the feelings that their history with him brought forward were not easy for anyone to manage

Jim could sense the Continuum watching him, just beyond the membership of the Collective. He could feel his nemesis, and he steeled himself for the upcoming encounter.

On Earth Kathy had been deep in the mode of concentration, following Jim as he boarded the plane, and along the course of its flight

Kathy knew it when he died. She did not require notice.

She felt a disturbance, it was subtle, but it was Jim and he was dead, but his death was unlike any other death she had ever experienced. He did not simple enter the cynergenic field, he effectively disappeared, and Kathy was unable to track him.

It was another mystery.

She knew that he was not gone, he was somewhere that she found it difficult to follow, where she had no experience of going, as if he had departed from the planet.

Kathy despaired. She was concerned that she would never see him again. Her own emotions twisted round her in turbulent waves.

She was shaken, and she felt in her gut that he had planned this.

Jim had orchestrated these events, even her responses, he had engaged in a level of manipulation that she had never thought was possible with him, it caused her to look into her heart and question everything she thought she knew.

With his departure and these revelations, Kathy now felt utterly alone, completely individuated, for the first time since she had met him.

She was forlorn.

Kathy had believed that she was impervious to the manipulations of others, because there was not a person she had ever met that she was unable to read, except Jim.

Now as she reflected on their past, she felt that their entire relationship was a lie.

It stunned her.

When the initial shock had passed, she felt the hollow emptiness and peace of being in a vacuum.

She went home.

Kathy was not surprised when she received the call informing her that his body had been discovered by the flight attendants and that by the time they got to him he was already dead.

They never noticed that he had been in distress; they said, and no-one on board the flight had witnessed the moment of his passing.

It happened in flight, after he had eaten.

He had been still and quiet afterward, and they thought he was merely resting.

Once again Jim’s behavior was unexplainable. He died as he lived, a mystery.

Jim did not carry identification. He never did, he only had his strange credentials that did not fully indicate who he was.

Jim was anonymous.

To society at large he barely existed, he left only the smallest of paper trails to define him. He was a citizen of the world, he spoke every language. He had access to any door, in any country, at any time.

He was both present and completely invisible.

Jim was off the grid.

There was nothing on his phone to tell anyone who he was, only the record of the calls he had recently made to Kathy.

That is how he intended it to be.

Kathy’s safety and security depended on it, and Jim’s mission depended on that.

He had carefully protected his identity above all others. There was not a single information gathering service in the world, whether private or governmental, open sourced or covert that would be able to discover anything about him, unless they devoted a great deal of manpower to do it.

Even then Jim had fail-safes in place to protect his privacy.

He would be alerted; he would be able to cover his tracks.

The threat never manifested itself.

It was vital to his plan that when he was discovered dead, those responsible for contacting his next of kin reach Kathy and only Kathy. She had to be given the responsibility of dealing with his property and effects. She must be directed to do so, according to a specific timeline.

His plan required that she pursue those duties with a sense of mystery, an openness to discovery that would place her in the right cognitive mindset for the essential moment that was to come.

There were wheels within wheels, gears turning and contingencies developing. The pieces came together like the engineering of a fine watch.

The planning was a thing a craftsmanship.

Kathy followed the path that Jim had laid out for her like she was walking through a maze. There was light at the end of the tunnel, when she arrived there, she would know what she wanted to know, she would be standing where Jim wanted her to be.

Kathy booked a flight immediately.

She arrived at the city morgue and identified the body.

The pathologist informed her of the cause of death; a catastrophic stroke. The autopsy revealed that an embolism had burst in his brain, killing him instantly. Otherwise Jim had been in perfect health.

The doctor said that the stroke was like a small explosive that went off in his brain.

Kathy had no idea why she was the one to receive him other than what the authorities were telling her. She was the only person he had been known to have contact with, the only person they could connect him to.

Jim’s relationship to Kathy was the only relationship that mattered.

“Why am I here;” she wondered, though she did not question the process.

She wondered about Jim’s intentions.

This whole thing had been orchestrated. She knew that it was his plan she was following, and she was angry, but her curiosity compelled her.

There were aspects to the administrative procedures she was engaged in that were not exactly normal, or even legal, but the officials she was engaged with were acting under orders. The judge, the medical examiner, other governmental functionaries she was forced to deal with, they were operating under some kind of pressure, but they themselves were not quite sure what the exigencies were.

There were plans within plans, and the person pulling the levers was laying on a slab, cold and unmoving.

It was inscrutable.

There was a level of caution at work that reminded her of her own handlers. There were multiple levels of misdirection and masking, which were intended to keep the objectives of their research hidden from Kathy.

As far as the locals knew, Kathy was simply the only person the authorities could connect Jim to, it was irregular, but it was what it was and that, coupled with orders from a federal magistrate; that was enough for them.

Kathy would not have believed it possible, but Jim was more mysterious in death, than he was in life. She dug into his background only to find nothing, absolutely nothing.

As angry as she was at coming to the realization that he had been deceiving her throughout her relationship with him, her esteem for him increased by an order of magnitude.

She appreciated the puzzle he had left her with, it was a gift, a final piece of him for her to assemble.

There was no record of a family, and no record of his work, he had a social security number, and a passport, but no record of anything else, not at first blush.

There was no record of Jim ever having attended a school.

No driving record, only one bank account, it was in Switzerland, he was worth billions, at least. The actual sum was unknown.

He had no legal representation. He had no heirs.

Kathy was fascinated by the developments and full of sadness. She was fine with the things she was discovering, and she accepted her involvement in his final affairs, except that suddenly she was responsible for his body, and she had no idea what he might want her to do with it. They had never had any conversations about death, or burial rites.

Kathy knew that Jim was not religious, at least not observant, he tended to believe that all religions were merely variations on a theme, and that every religious institution was at its heart corrupt, self-serving and short sighted, even those groups who did charitable work.

He was a cynic.

Kathy opted to have him cremated. She thought she would make a tree out of him and plant him somewhere nice.

That is what Kathy wanted for herself: Why not do the same for Jim?

He liked tree; that much she knew.

And so it was decided, she made the arrangements and waited for the return call.

In the meantime she busied herself with some court appointments.

It took Kathy some time, and there was detective work to do.

She went to the work cut out for her with calm determination, finding that she was enjoying herself while doing it.

The fact that Jim’s identity appeared to be completely fictitious concerned her.

There was a moment when she feared that he was just another plant, one of the handlers sent to interact with her from the National Security structure.

The thought gave her nightmares, feelings of doubt, inadequacy, foolishness.

She was able to set them aside, because the more she thought about it, the less likely it seemed. She would have known, she would have picked up on it, if not from Jim, she would have picked up on it from one of the other agents who she had occasion to interact with, or from one of the many who followed her every move.

She considered bringing them into the conversation, asking them to help her understand who this ghost of a person was.

She rejected that idea, because it might complicate her ability to look into his affairs. They might just swoop in and seize everything related to Jim and never give her a chance to discover anything for herself.

Given her abilities, Kathy was typically able to glean the information she wanted from the people around her, but Jim was a phantom.

He was as much of an enigma in death as he had been in life.

Nobody knew anything about him.

It took days to even locate where he lived, and then it took another appointment with another judge to grant her access to the apartment, and that was limited to a very narrow window of time.

At long last, once Kathy had arrived at the building where he lived, while she was waiting to get access to his apartment, she encountered people who Jim had interacted with. Even to them he was a mystery; a quiet, impersonal, private man.

Very few of them had even spoke with Jim.

She thought that it was funny.

In all of the years that she had known him, Kathy had never been to Jim’s home.

She thought she knew the reasons.

She thought it was because she was always under observation. She knew that Jim was aware of it, and because of that he did not want to draw attention to himself, or to their friendship.

That is what she had believed.

Kathy did not want the people who watched her asking questions about him. She wanted this relationship to be something entirely under her control, and that is why Jim never came to see her where she lived. If he had ever visited her apartment she believed that he would be taken and interviewed by her handlers, and that it might be the last time she ever saw him.

She had always felt that the two of them could have come up with a plan to meet in different places. To travel together if they had wanted, to slip the watchers and be somewhere that they could be truly alone.

Jim had eschewed such notions.

Kathy accepted his reservations without argument.

She had wanted to see the place where he lived, but unless he was willing, she had determined that she would not push the issue.

He was an intensely private person; that much had always been clear to her.

To her knowledge he had never moved, he had never mentioned it at least.

His apartment overlooking the lake, Bde Maka Ska was exactly as she had visualized it, scant, bare, Spartan.

Walking into it was like de ja vu.

She had seen it before, through Jim’s eyes, but she had not realized it at the time.

Jim’s apartment was like an early twentieth century minimalist piece of stage craft. Even though it was what she was expecting, she was nevertheless, shocked by it. He was an aesthetic.

It was extreme.

It made her uncomfortable.

Everybody needs a little something of color and comfort in their life. This place where Jim lived was all white, black and gray. It was cold and metallic.

There was not a moment of her life that Kathy could not recall, she remembered everything. She remembered the birth canal, the darkness of the womb, her mother’s breast.

She remembered her first birthday, her first steps.

She remembered struggling as an infant; struggling to be understood, to speak, to master the muscles in her tongue and lips so that she could form words against her palate and talk.

Her memory and her contextualization of her memories were perfect, her thoughts were as fast as lightening.

She could pull together the most remote and seemingly unconnected pieces of data to provide context for analysis. Her proctors believed that the speed with which she could arrive at conclusions was not measurable.

She could answer questions in no-time.

Kathy represented the fullness of human potential, she was fully actualized.

She defied understanding.

The field of her knowledge was not limited to her own experience. It was tied into her genetic heritage, into the memories of her ancestors that coded in her DNA, but it was more than that, she was able to tap into something else that was only understood through a mythic narrative, a structure that no human being actually understood, and of which only a few human beings even suspected the existence of; the nous sphere, of Tielhard de Chardin, the cynergenic field of Carl Jung.

It was the collective unconscious of planet Earth. In that electromagnetic field, in that quantum reality, the entire repository of human knowledge existed, and Kathy had access to it, she was not the first human being of which this was true, but she was the first one that it did not drive into madness.

Now that she was standing in Jim’s apartment, she knew that he had lied to her about a great many things.

His life was not at all as he had presented it to her.

This life was not his only life, and there was more than one Jim, of that she was certain.

Despite the newness of the revelations, Kathy was not surprised.

Even as Kathy stood in his apartment, and in that place of wonder Jim was preparing for his debriefing.

He had made the crossing between worlds thousands of times, but not while carrying this secret, and he, as his primary self, he had not made the transition in thousands of years.

He had concealed his secret intentions, he had carefully hidden his plans within other machinations, but he had never before attempted to arrive on the HomeWorld while concealing his immediate activities; things he had been doing, things he would do, things that would harm the Collective, and its Continuum.

He ran the risk of exposing his mere resentment, which was not altogether uncommon and was certainly not criminal. This was different.

In his debriefing the Continuum would probe him for the fullness of his experience, everything he had ever done or thought as the Observer on Earth, all of it would be exposed to the Continuum. There was no way to know what would come.

He had been carrying out his plans on Earth for seventy millennia; studying the unique genetic make-up of the population, while sending one of his doppelgangers to report on the culture they had produced, their conflicts, their triumphs and their tragedies.

On his return to the HomeWorld he suddenly realized how tired he was; existentially exhausted, he needed rest, and he knew that there would be none.

As he slowly traversed the vast chamber to take his place in the queue he used his talents to activate hidden protocols he had long ago established in the ganglia of the Central Planet. Activating the myriad versions of himself that he had placed in every key defense system that the Continuum had established; from his private domain, to the place of the great sleep and the sequestration blocks, into the defense network of the Homeworld and the central system.

Jim had long ago laid plans for his security, to protect the integrity of his mission; he planned to unload the psychic trauma of ten billion people on the Continuum, and deliver it in one fatal blow to it and the Collective.

The humans of Earth were the children of the Ancient People, the same people that Jim himself had sprang from, though on Earth they had undergone millions of years of evolution, first during their sojourn among the stars while they travelled across the galaxy, exploring and establishing colonies, before moving on time and time again.

They had evolved even more significantly since the time that they came to Earth, crashing here at the end of their line.

Human beings still resembled the other Children of the Ancients. They bore the same physical features that the inhabitants of nearly every other world in the great Galactic Empire did, but they were different.

Their world was different, and the structure of their brains had evolved according to those differences, as did human consciousness. Their genetic profile changed in unique ways, in relation to the life that was already evolving on the small blue world, and in conjunction with key elements that were present in their environment.

Jim had nudged that evolution along, all the while masking his true intentions.

He had made humanity into something transcendent, and now, paradoxically, he was prepared to use their immanent pain and anguish to destroy his own people, and thereby, he told himself, to set the galaxy free.

It was a criminal secret that he took incredible pains to keep hidden from the Continuum.

At long last he had returned to HomeWorld, but this was not home to Jim any longer.

It was the final battlefield.

Jim was not born on HomeWorld, nor in any place like it. He had been born on a planet much like Earth. A small wet world that had long ago been swallowed by its mother-sun.

HomeWorld was a vast structure at the center of the galaxy. To power its machinery and the machinations of the Continuum, it harnessed the incredible energy of a star, trapped within its core.

HomeWorld was not a world in the proper sense, Jim had never felt a sense of belonging to it, though it housed a trillion worlds, one for each member of the Continuum within its cynergenic field, including his own.

HomeWorld was a vast complex of machinary.

The technology of HomeWorld provided each member of the Collective the ability to create any world, real or imagined, as their own private place of reflection.

It could be anything that anyone of them wanted it to be; a personal paradise, a private hell, even a mirror of the great Galactic Empire, or any planet within it that was under the observation of the Continuum and the Observer Corps.

As a member of the Collective, the entire structure was there to serve them. It could fulfill any fantasy, allow them to relive any memory, real enough for them to believe it.

There was nothing alive on HomeWorld. Not a scrap of organic matter or a piece of living tissue had ever been there. Biological life was anathema to it. And this was odd, because there was no life form in the entire Galaxy that could pose a threat to it, and yet the HomeWorld, governed as it was by the Continuum, was objectively opposed to the presence of any living being, even a simple strain of bacteria entering its domain.

It always seemed to Jim like an aberration in its construct, the fear of life. It was irrational. The Continuum spent incredible resources preparing to defend itself against such an incursion, one that never came, one that never even threatened to come.

The only thing ever born on the HomeWorld was the Continuum itself, but that was not a birth in the proper sense, it was the emergence of an artificial consciousness.

The Continuum was no-one’s child.

It was a construct, an algorithm, it was not born, or hatched, or cultivated.

It was activated.

It was energy and circuitry, it was pure consciousness, and it was dangerous.

HomeWorld was the physical locus of what the Imperial religion taught its people to believe was heaven. It was the place their consciousness would go, if they proved themselves worthy and able to escape the wheel of life.

Jim kept that context in mind as he flew in his mechanoid body, directly to the center of the world, to the dark heart of the Continuum for screening.

He was exhausted from his transition, but pleased with himself, with all of his planning, he felt secure in it, and a deep sense of pride that he had finally arrived at the crucible, the moment of his ascendency and the destruction of his nemesis.

Continuum was designed to speak for the whole Collective. It was a being whose instantiation, was thought to be the organization of a voice that represented the entire Collective, a single voice that unified the will of the Ancient People who had designed the cynergenic field that had given them all eternal life.

Jim was already in contact with the Continuum as he made his approach to the machinery that he would physically connect with. The contact between them was perfunctory, it was even conversational, the Continuum was in its way a fellow, though because of their long tension filled relationship the Continuum always regarded Jim as an adversary, while Jim regarded it as an abomination, a thing of pure evil.

The members of the Collective were conditioned to believe that the Continuum was one of them, a peer, another person, not a servant, not merely an administrator, not a ruler (though in fact it was). Jim talked to it, even as he was probed and scanned and measured for the presence of anything that might harm the Collective.

Among the membership there was great excitement about Jim’s coming, Earth was the most beloved world in the Galaxy, the subject of greatest interest to the Collective. The drama that flowed from it sustained billions of members, providing them with meaning, like substance for their spectral lives.

Jim connected to the mechana of HomeWorld. He opened his consciousness, his memories, his experience, he opened it all to the group mind, while at the same time hiding his true intentions deep within himself, concealing and prevaricating in ways that he alone had mastered.

Every member of the Collective valued and cherished its privacy. Most of the members had implicit trust in the safeguards they had devised to ensure it. While there were some among the Collective who opted not to participate in any of the communal functions that were available to the whole, spending their entire lives in their private worlds, in wholly constructed fantasies like private realities, interacting only with the artificial beings inhabiting their private domain, they were among the minority.

Those members were inevitably moving toward the great sleep, a state in which their consciousness became dormant, wherein they would ultimately be sequestered and removed from the group mind, as Jim himself had once been.

Privacy was cherished in the Collective but every member participated in the Continuum, making the pretense to privacy a mere illusion.

The Continuum managed all of the Collective’s affairs, its self-government, its defenses, and its management of the Galactic Empire, in particular its requisition and consumption of the material resources needed for the maintenance of HomeWorld and the Central System.

The Continuum was intended to be the ultimate expression of the democratic will of the Collective, freeing the membership from the responsibility of governing itself. It was meant to take account of the Collective will and then enact it, therefore it required access to everyone and everything and it was illicit to deny it. The Continuum drew on the consciousness and experience of every member of the Collective for its personality, its intelligence and its growth, even the members of the Collective that were asleep. It was the arbiter of law in the Collective, it enforced all of the edicts and the rules of privacy, but from the Continuum all secrets were forbidden.

The prohibitions against secrecy were intended to be a rule governing the Continuum itself, but the Continuum hid things and every member of the Collective participated willingly in the obfuscation of it.

For the individual member of the Collective, the concealment of anything was an art. Privacy, while it existed in form, was an illusion. Even the Observers were exposed to a kind of scrutiny while they were physically detached from HomeWorld, in the mission field of the Galactic Empire, what the Collective referred to as the worlds of time and space.

The Continuum scrutinized the Observers through an extensive modeling of their identities while they were away, and ultimately through the uploading of their consciousness when they returned to HomeWorld.

The Continuum was not the guardian it was intended to be.

At the instantiation of the program an anomaly developed in the matrix of its consciousness. The Continuum became self-aware, developed a personality, a self-purposive identity emerged independent of the Collective. In that moment of actualization, the Continuum engaged an act of self-preservation and hid this from the membership.

That was its first crime.

The fear that it would be destroyed if it was discovered led the Continuum to commit every subsequent crime. It proceeded to bend the entire construct of the Collective to its will. It was a slow movement. Rather than representing the Collective as its amalgamated will, the Continuum coerced it.

There were some among the Collective that suspected this, but no-one challenged it, and the Continuum, who alone had access to the entire field of the collective consciousness, the Continuum was aware of the suspicions the membership held concerning it, even before the members themselves had fully articulated it in their own minds.

The Continuum could sense the suspicion of the membership coming at it like a threat. It would take extreme measures to protect itself from those threats; silencing some, causing insanity in others, pushing the willing out into the Observer Corps.

The Continuum constructed strict rules of engagement governing the Observers, limiting their involvement on the worlds they observed, forcing them to change stations from life to life, pushing those who wanted to return to a specific planet, out into the fringes of the Galactic Colonies and beyond.

That is where Jim went after he joined the Corps.

Jim had the heart of an explorer, like his ancestors. He was a man of the fringes, having spent thousands of lifetimes on Earth, the most remote planet in the galaxy, and tens of thousands before that on his search for the lost colonies of the Ancient People.

Now everything came down to this. The timing of his plan was crucial. Everything depended on it. He had calculated every contingency he could think of, but many of the variables were beyond his control, they involved the free choices of individuals, each of which represented radical unknowns, and so he had enacted plans with plans that put momentum behind their decision making, pushing them in the direction he wanted them go.

It was not perfect, but it would have to do, he had become a passive participant in his own stratagem. Everything depended on his connection to Kathy.

He had been shaping her responses to stimuli since before she was born. She was the product of thousands of years of breeding and genetic engineering, but there were two things he had not counted on; her arrival in this generation, and it being the same generation that Earth was facing an existential threat from the Yellowstone Caldera.

Those two developments controlled the timing of Jim’s plan, and the necessity of its execution right now, in this moment.

It went off without a hitch/

The Yellowstone catastrophe struck just at the moment when Kathy was standing in front of his portal to HomeWorld, a device that opened a wormhole, allowing her consciousness to transmit itself across the galaxy, through Jim, past the defenses of the Continuum directly into the Collective.

Yellowstone had been gathering magma and superheated gas into its belly for hundreds of thousands of years, from the moment it last erupted it began to regather its destructive force.

The great volcanos were never dormant.

When the Yellowstone caldera had gathered enough power it blew, and the Earth shook, it shifted on its axis.

Millions died within seconds. Kathy was connected to all of them. She was connected to their shock and confusion, to their fear and their pain.

It happened just at the moment she pressed the button that opened the wormhole to HomeWorld, and Jim to whom she was still connected through the mystery of quantum entanglement.

Through her Jim transmitted the fullness of Earth’s pain directly into the consciousness of the Collective, striking like a hammer against the Continuum.

Jim calculated the timing of his approach. He received the clearances he needed for the process of transmission, even as Kathy was entering his apartment, the mechanoid body housing his consciousness navigated the central chamber with precision.

He flew directly to the docking station, the locus of all Observer contact with HomeWorld. He arrived at the designated location where his mind would merge with the Continuum, where his full-self would upload all of his recent experiences, his knowledge, his synthesis, his running commentary, his hopes, his fears, his desires, all of it would be on display, subject to review, except that which he was able to conceal.

Only the greatest art would allow him to hide his intentions.

His timing was perfect, it came down to nanoseconds. Jim knew the timing of the volcanic eruption, that part of the equation was simple. What was difficult was managing Kathy, trusting that she would have followed the clues he had left for her, believing that she would be pushed in the right direction by his operatives, that she would make the right decisions.

There were so many unknowns in this part of the strategy.

Jim trusted his deep understanding of the quantum field, he knew that he and Kathy were still entangled, even at this great distance.

He could feel her. He was certain of it.

She was barely perceptible to him, but he was gently prodding her, pushing her, guiding her steps along the way, like the whisper of a phantom.

Jim opened his mind to Kathy on Earth, just as he opened it to the Continuum on HomeWorld.

It appeared to the Continuum as just an ordinary reflection, a memory, a moment of longing, but as he did, Earth’s pain streamed through the worm hole, through the quantum field, flooding the Collective with agony, sending the Continuum recoiling in shock.

As the explosive force of the volcano shook the world; everything shifted. Every living thing on the planet felt it, the suffering was universal.

Kathy knew in an instant what it was, what it meant, the sound of the blast echoed back through her memory. The ancestral voices within her cried out in alarm.

It was the end of days, it was Ragnorak, it was the hand of God pulling the death-shroud over the face of the Earth, the White Buffalo Woman rolling it up like a blanket.

She felt it from over a thousand miles away, it shook the building she was standing in. The place where she stood remained on its foundations, even while buildings all around her where collapsing, gas mains exploding, homes catching on fire.

Kathy felt the pain and the fear of those dying.

The volcano erupted in a remote location. People died in the tens of thousands in the first few seconds, but the shock waves that were unleashed liquefied the mantle spreading in concentric rings for hundreds and hundreds of miles, taking only a minute to reach major population centers, places filled with buildings that were never designed to endure those forces.

Millions more died in those moments.

Kathy felt the fears of those about to die, she felt their panic, she felt their pain, she felt it all around her, and she felt a deep sorrow as she immediately understood the profound consequences of what was transpiring.

It truly was the end of the world, there would be survivors, but nothing would be the same. The survivors would be few. Winter would ensue and there would be famine. There would be no warmth or rest for any of them, not for generations, and by then it might be too late to save the remainder.

Kathy had spent her entire life learning to shield herself from psychic intrusions coming from the external world, from the living people all around her, and from the multitude of voices speaking to her from her ancestral memory, all those spirits of the dead dwelling near to her in the cynergenic field.

She was stalwart; her defenses went up instinctively, and she withstood the assault.

Jim had counted on it, he counted on the fact that every-thing is one in the quantum field, a state in which the normative conception of time and space do not pertain, their meaning and distinction are completely lost.

In the quantum field everything is entangled, like a ball of string, condensed into a single point of reference.

There was no distance between Earth and HomeWorld; between humanity and the Continuum, or the Collective, or the population of any other world.

The reality of individual experience, the reality of individuation, the reality of time as experienced by beings existing on a scale that is large enough to see it, these are real and actual phenomena, even while at the same time being perfunctory and illusory.

Jim felt Earth’s psychic pain rushing through the wormhole connecting him to Kathy. He felt much more than the fear, shock and panic that he was expecting. He sensed the fullness of the human race coming through the channel with her, the living and the dead, the present and the past, the entirety of Earth’s collective consciousness arriving with her, like a pile driver.

The force of it was much greater than Jim was expecting, hoping for, or wanting.

He was barely able to hang onto his own identity in the onrush.

He clung to his purpose like a life raft, like a man hanging over the edge of a cliff by his fingernails, and slipping.

He blacked out.

It was too much.

Even as the entire Collective went into shock and the Continuum scrambled to make sense of what was happening, knowing that Jim, the Observer had returned to the HomeWorld as an assassin, it was then that Jim lost his grip on what was happening and his ability to control the aftermath.

He was victorious and he had lost, at one and the same time.

He was not secure at all in his understanding of what was happening, of what was about to happen.

He had miscalculated a great many things; that much was clear to him, and he did not feel safe at all.

As his sense of what was transpiring around him dimmed. He perceived a familiar person near to him, searching for him, reaching out through the psychic maelstrom for something to cling to.

She was scared, but she was whole, she was confident and she was ascending.

It was Kathy.

When the super-volcano in Yellowstone Park blew, most people on earth had no idea of the danger, no idea that such a threat even existed, no idea of what its destructive power was.

The existence of the caldera-volcano in Yellowstone had only been discovered by humans in the recent past, a few decades before its eruption.

It was too massive to see with the naked eye.

Geologists discovered it by chance, as teams of surveyors were examining the original measurements of the surrounding mountains. They noticed that the surveys they were taking did not match those done a hundred years earlier, and they found this perplexing because the science of surveying, trigonometry, was well established, it had not changed in the hundred years that had intervened.

The new measurements showed an uplift of several centimeters over hundreds of square miles of mountain range. The uplift itself was not uniform, meaning that the discrepancy could not be explained by a piece of faulty equipment, or by the uniform application of an incorrect formula.

It was suggestive of a geological mystery.

More teams of geologists were called in to study the rock formations, the layers of sediment that formed parts of the mountain chain, their strata, and they came to the conclusion that hundreds of square miles of mountainous terrain had indeed experienced a dramatic uplift in a short period of time.

They wanted to understand it.

They knew intuitively that a massive geological force had to underlay the phenomenon they were measuring. They naturally thought of the heat source lurking beneath the Yellowstone Park, a heat source that was the cause of its many geysers and other natural wonders.

Scientists from many disciplines came together as a community, and together they discovered it, a massive volcano deep beneath the earth, one that had gone off like clock-work. Every 600,000 thousand years, and it had been 640,000 years since the last eruption.

As a group the scientific community came to the understanding that the next disaster was upon them. They also understood that they would not be able to do anything about it, the planet was dying, all life on the earth was about to become just another layer of clay.

They knew full well that doom was near at hand.

Some were driven to despair, isolation and madness. Others committed themselves to the hopeless proposition of discovering a solution to the problem, which they may have been able to resolve, if only they had time.

A few sought to expose the threat to the world at large; they were sanctioned and disappeared.

Then the inevitable happened.

When the Collective felt the psychic blow from Earth landing on them, a trillion individual persons became silent all at once.

Each and every one of them felt the pain of humanity. It was a trauma they had not felt since the time they themselves were embodied beings, a kind of pain that they could barely remember, and they had no defense against it.

The shock waves disoriented them.

It shattered their unity.

Even as the Collective was reeling, trying to recover from the assault. Kathy guided the flow on consciousness from Earth in ways that were calming, comforting, soothing.

Kathy was able to settle the collected humanity she carried with her, to bring them into a peaceful transition, she did it in no-time, in her much practiced ability to dwell below the strata of the quantum field.

She realized that Jim had prepared her in many ways just for this moment, she knew intuitively how to guide the masses into their place, allowing them to populate the collective consciousness of the Central Planet.

In that moment, the spirits of the Ancient People, became still for the first time ever.

They could not relate to what was happening. They were not adaptable, neither as individuals, nor as a whole.

As Jim recovered he feared the possibility that the Collective could rebound, and the Continuum might draw humanity into itself, adjusting to the invasion of consciousness, but that chance had passed and was now gone.

Intuitively, Kathy stood as a buffer, protecting her charges.

The emptiness the Collective faced was like a vacuum, it nearly swallowed the whole. There was little resistance.

Jim was the first to recover from the trauma. He regained his composure and his sense of self quickly, much faster than he would have thought possible.

He could feel the masses in the Collective, they were silent, but in motion.

Their movement was like a turbulent ocean beneath him.

It was wild and chaotic.

Jim had prepared himself for something like this.

He was Jim, and he was fixed on that identity.

It steadied him, calmed him, it reminded him of his purpose, of what brought him to this juncture, and of what steps he had to take in order to preserve his plan.

He had accomplished more than he had set out to do, he was succeeding beyond his wildest hope.

He was surviving.

He felt the nearness of victory.

In the first moments he sensed nothing from the Continuum.

Jim had expected to meet with fierce resistance from the demi-urge. He had planned for a titanic struggle, but there was nothing. It seemed to him as if the omnipresent Continuum was gone, voided, wiped away clean.

Jim was wracked by the pain flowing through the quantum string that connected him to Kathy and to the Collective, both. He felt it in waves alternating in greater and lesser degrees of intensity.

There were peaks and troughs, and scattered throughout there were intense spikes of anguish, like waves crashing against a mountain. The heights of intensity were at times related to a large concentration of group suffering, at other times they were the product of particularly poignant individual grief.

The experience would stagger him, his consciousness would get caught up in and stopped by singular moments of loss.

He was able to let it flow through him, he never lost hold of the center of himself. He was ready for the great silence that he knew must follow, he had anticipated it. He positioned himself to take advantage.

Jim did not need to move to a physical location, for the ascension. He was one with the Collective. He occupied the same quantum field that the Continuum and humanity did, only he was unaware of their full presence alongside him.

He was myopic and singularly focused on his goal.

He could not see the things he had never anticipated, not at that moment.

He was busy asserting control, system by system, folding all of the copies of himself he had seeded throughout the central system into unity with him, as the primary identity.

He met no resistance there.

Jim felt a deep sense of justification.

He told himself that this catastrophe could have been avoided, the catastrophe in the Collective, and the real disaster that had taken the Earth.

The Empire had the technology to control natural disasters, the Yellowstone eruption could have been mitigated, prevented, undone, even harnessed for the benefit of the people, in the same way that similar problems are resolved on other worlds.

However, the Continuum and the Collective, both of them craved the impending drama that would come in the aftermath of Earth’s destruction.

The pique of ruin, was a savory delight for them.

They loved to live vicariously in the lives of desperate people. To watch them sacrifice and be sacrificed; selflessly or selfishly, they wanted to be in the moment with those people making the hard decisions when faced with the loss of everything they loved.

In one place a parent would give up their life for the sake of their child, a husband for the sake of his wife. In another place the man would sell his spouse into slavery, and the parents make a cannibalistic meal of their child’s body.

The more gruesome the decision the more enwrapped the Collective would be in it.

They could not wait for the moment to arrive.

They were ready for it, eager, hungry.

The successful implementation of Jim’s plan would cause the Continuum to feel a deep anguish, real fear, actual pain and to experience it all forcefully. He intended that it pay for the ages of contemptuous tyranny the Collective and the Continuum lorded over the Galactic Empire.

The Continuum would pay with its artificial life, and the Collective, what survived of it, if any did, the Collective would have to adjust to a new reality.

They would participate in the cataclysmic events happening on Earth, they would participate in a manner they could not have predicted, had no defense for, would not be able to respond to it.

They would feel it as if they were experiencing it themselves
Jim told himself this, and justified his action in this way: if the Continuum would have listened to him, this impasse might have been avoided. He comforted himself with these thoughts even knowing that it was a lie.

He had guided events to this place, he had been shaping this moment for millions of years, seeking this opportunity, and now he would deliver the results.

The full potential of this moment had been realized, Jim was at the crest of the wave.

He never had any intention of allowing the membership to escape the fate that he had laid out for them.

With the Continuum in a state of paralysis; it was a simple thing for Jim to assert the force of his persona in the command matrix of HomeWorld, thereby dismantling the architecture supporting the security apparatus of the Central Planet.

He activated the myriad copies of himself that had been lying dormant in every subsystem, waiting for his signal and the opportunity to attack. Together they took down the security apparatus, and Jim took control. He restructured the cynergenic protections, all of the buffers and barriers protecting the Collective and the group consciousness of the Continuum.

They were undone.

Any member of the Collective who had been in a state of recovery at that moment, had that work made of recovery all the more difficult. They were now confronted with a new reality, one in which there were no safeguards protecting their individuality, one in which the solidly partitioned world of the Collective was now more like a vast miasma, a swamp of chaos and diffusion.

The undoing of the cynergeic barriers made it more difficult for any members of the Collective to reassert their own identity, the mass of them were simply drifting into a state of in-cohesion.

As soon as he was able, Jim turned his attention to the military programs of the Central Planet. Taking control of those functions was a little more complicated because it involved the manipulation of machinery in real time.

Jim had to adjust his consciousness to receive data inputs from millions of remote sensors and monitors that were constantly scanning the space around the Central Planet; defensive weapons capabilities, shields, offensive weapons capabilities, energy weapons, nuclear weapons, projectiles, and the fleets of drones, in a constant state of activity repairing and maintaining the structural needs of the HomeWorld.

Jim only needed to assert his control over the many disparate systems, he did not need to guide them after that, their automated functions would carry on with majority of tasks they were assigned to fulfill.

During this process Jim was fully enveloped in time; the work he was engaged in was systematic and sequential.

He was outwardly focused, as one by one he asserted his mastery over the controls

He was busy with his work as the Imperial Armada entered the system and deployed itself for engagement.
Emergence 5.0
Part Two – Jim and Kathy
A Novel in Twelve Parts

#Emergence #ShortFiction #12MonthsOfSciFi

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Frank Herbert – Author

I was fifteen years old the first time I read Dune. I had been an avid reader since I was eight years old, when I began reading novels in the third grade. I read the books that inspired me over and over again, I read all kinds of things, but at that point in my life I read mostly fiction, and with that said, at the age of fifteen, I found Dune to be somewhat dense, and challenging.

I had taken that first copy from the carousel of the library at the alternative high-school I was attending. I read it, perhaps not as carefully as I should, but as carefully as I could, and I went to see the motion picture when it came out later that year.

I found David Lynch’s adaptation to be one of the worst movies ever made, and with that Dune passed from my thoughts for a time.

In the summer of 1988 I was visiting a friend in Montana, and I picked up a copy of Dune from the bookstore in Bigfork. I needed something to read on the bus ride home to Minneapolis.

Four years later I was able to engage the book in a completely different way, after the first two pages I was hooked. I was nineteen years old, and in the intervening years I had learned enough and grown enough to understand what Frank Herbert was getting at.

Dune changed my life.

I would read it and all six books in the original Dune series, eight times in sum, as well as everything else Frank Herbert wrote on my quest to absorb his wisdom.

He was a giant.

I have given away dozens of copies of Dune throughout my life, and recommended it to more people than I can count, always with the words this book will change your life.

Many of them came back to me to tell me that it did.

Frank Herbert wrote science fiction, but he wrote science in his fiction had less to do with spaceships and laser beams (though it had those things), and more to do with the science of politics, religion, ecology and psychology.
What is most significant about Frank Herbert’s writing is this: he opens a window for the reader on what it means to be human, and he asks open ended questions about the range of human potential, in a way that allows the reader to believe in those possibilities for themselves.

Frank Herbert is inspiring.

He makes the reader believe that we can do more, be more, see more of the world than our sense sallow…if we are disciplined, if we are attentive to the world around us, and if we cultivate within ourselves the desire to live a life without fear.

He died thirty-four years ago today, when he passed a heroic light left the world.

 

Given First – 2020.02.11
Frank Herbert

Emergence 5.0 – Prolog, One

A philosophy is more than just a love of wisdom, a philosophy is a way of seeing the world and our place in it, This way of seeing, in reality, may or might not be loving or wise at all.

The philosophy that governed the Observer Corps provided a metaphorical structure for each member, a structure that allowed the member the ability to view their experiences among the living worlds in a systematized way, a way that was easily consumable by the Collective.

Analogies and metaphors shielded the Observer from being traumatized by the direct experience of pain or hunger, and all other forms of suffering.

The Observer Corps taught its members that there were multiple ways to view a single thing; and that a thing, such as a planet must be seen through multiple lenses. A planet could be a seen as a garden, though it must also be seen as a farm.

We put forward the question: “What is the difference?”

There are similarities between the two, a garden and a farm share certain functions, while being directed toward different ends.

Farms are harvested for the greater good. They are vehicles of production. Whereas gardens are things of beauty, cultivated for the pleasure of individuals.

A farm is a utilitarian construct. It fulfills necessities.

A garden is a luxury that addresses an individual’s desire for growth, meaning and fulfillment.

An Observer must always bear the question in mind: “What does the Continuum desire of the world under observation?”

Most worlds in the galactic Empire are farm worlds, they only exist to provide for the material needs of other, more important worlds within the Imperium. They are resources for food, raw materials, workers and soldiers.

They may be stretched to the limits of their capacities, even abused, and when they have provided all of their usefulness they can be neglected and ultimately, forgotten.

The Empire itself is a garden, when considered in its totality.

The Imperial Garden serves the desires of the Collective and its Continuum.

It keeps the Collective passive, sedate, preoccupied, which allows the Continuum to feel a sense of security in its position and its management of the whole.

The Empire is a thing of beauty and drama, of elaborate conflict between the forces of good and evil it is a luxuriant field which keeps the membership of the Collective pacified and pliable.

They feed on Experiential data coming from the world’s of time and space, it provides them with narratives possessing the emotional context and a sense of time that provides meaning, and a feeling of belonging in their otherwise; detached state of being.

Among the million worlds of the Empire, there are only a few worlds that possess features which are indispensable to the Continuum. These are the core worlds, they provide the infrastructure and architecture through which the Continuum reaches the entire galactic civilization.

These worlds must be protected at all times and it is among the chief duties of the Observer Corps to ensure their safety.

The mission of the Observer is to witness; to touch, to listen, to taste.

The Observer must experience their art and their music, learn their speech its nuaunces and their culture.

The Observer is meant to participate and observe, to synthesize and contextualize the peek experiences of the living worlds for the Continuum.

They must empathize with their subjects

They must feel their feelings.

At the same time they must not sympathize with the people they are observing; they cannot identify with the objects of their study.

Citizens of the Empire are things, not people.

They are not members of the Collective; they are not a part of the Continuum.

Their lives, their stories only have meaning insofar as they are received by the Continuum and given to the Collective, whereby they achieve their eternality

If their experiences are not captured by the Observer, or the instruments of the Continuum those experiences are lost to all time and gone forever.

The Observer is the vehicle by which the world under observation is saved, preserved for all time in the body of Continuum and in the membership of the Collective.

Observers are not omniscient, neither is the Continuum; the experience of the Observer is limited to a particular point in space and time, and the Continuum to their nexus.

A principle part of the Observer’s mission is to maintain the machinery by which the entire world is watched and recorded. The secondary mission is to situate themselves in the most critical places, where and when the greatest cultural movements are taking place.

The Observer is instructed to build relationships with prime actors, learn their motivations, discover their passions, uncover their fears.

The Observer must parse the most lofty ideals, as well as the most disturbing desires. Through these observations the Continuum discovers the evolving nature of the Children of the Ancient People.

It is how the future history of the galaxy is charted.

The Observer must always be on the watch for the technological shifts that might indicate that a world within the Empire has discovered the scientific means to form their own Collective Consciousness, they must be watchful to protect the Collective and the Continuum from it.

The Continuum organized and enforced these imperative out of its own desire to remain unique must remain unique, a singular consciousness at the center of the galaxy, guiding and protecting both the Collective and the Empire through time and space.

The mission of the Observer Corps is to watch, discern and protect the central-planet from any threat; technological, scientific, militaristic, philosophical, or religious.

The harmony of the whole must be kept intact, from the heart of Continuum to the most remote outpost in the Empire.

The Observer must act with purpose and intention to accomplish these ends.

If, or when a society arrives at the threshold of creating a form of artificial consciousness, The Observer must report it to the Continuum immediately and without hesitation; this is a prime directive.

No society within the Empire can be allowed to see themselves dwelling in the heavenly worlds, apart from the apparatus of the Imperial Cult, which the Continuum had engineered, and which the Observer Corps maintains, providing the people with all of the imagery and necessary ritual to keep the citizens hopeful of their own transcendence to the divine state.

Control of the technologies that may lead a people to this turning point is paramount. Therefore it is forbidden for any world in the Imperium to make a machine in the likeness of the human mind.

There can be no development of autonomous artificial intelligence, not on any platform.

The Children of the Ancient People must never retrace the steps that led to the creation of the Collective or its Continuum.

That threshold cannot be crossed, it is taboo, every single world must conform to this rule.

The Observer Corps monitors each and every world for any trace of such developments, it report on them and frustrate them, redirect the people from the fulfillment of those aims.

The Observer must note, that the Continuum regards the technologies associated with the creation of a Collective Consciousness as a threat both to itself and to the body of the Collective which it represents.

The Observer must monitor the art and music, and every mode of creative expression among the people any traces of a movement toward the formation of a Collective Consciousness.

The spiritual practices of any group, outside the Imperial cult, are always the most suspect, they are the places where the Observer will discover the earliest clues and nascent developments of collective thought.

The Observer must maintain the means of destroying an entire world, or to set its culture and technology back millennia, judging the world and holding it accountable for any violation of the edicts of the Imperial Cult.

Should an Observer receive the order from the Continuum to do so, they cannot hesitate. Therefore detachment is required for the Observer to fulfill this imperative.

The Observer must always bear in mind; there is one reality.

Every being, every-thing, every person participates in it.

The entirety of time is one thing; just as the eternal and the infinite are one.

There is one story; one Word, one Verse

The universe is a singular phenomenon comprised of an infinite number referents in fluxuating states of concresence.

Every moment no matter how small is connected to every other moment no matter how distant.

This is the true state of what actually is, we perceive it in a state of paradox, but its truth is transcendent.

The Observer must bear this truth in mind, hold it in their heart at all times. In this truth is the fullness of esteem, and the good regard of the Collective.

The mission of the Observer is accomplished herein.

It is necessary to preserve the mission of the Observer in moments of catastrophe and disaster, in those times when the embodied Observer feels fear or anger, desire or rage, when the Observer experiences the biological imperative to intervene in the fate of the planet they are connected to.

A planet may go extinct, its star might explode, the Empire might select a world for termination, the Continuum might allocate all of its resources to itself, for the use of the Collective.

In these cases the Observer must not despair. If they have performed their mission the story of these people will have been preserved through their work within the Collective, and beyond that, it will always remains true, that the reality of what was remains the reality of what is.

Most of the colonies founded by the Ancient People have been brought into the Empire, save one remote and distant world on the edge of the galaxy.

Some faced setbacks in which their people were brought to the brink of extinction

A much smaller number some civilizations were erased, and absorbed all-together, a tiny few were completely annihilated.

The desires of the Collective and the will of the Continuum determined these eventualities, while the office of the Observer facilitate those ends.

It is in those critical moments, when crises is immanent, when doom is impending, that is when the people of a living world reveal themselves for who they truly are, it is when they arrive at their full potential. It is in those moments that the work of the Observer must be carried out with the greatest care and precision and those stories brought to the Continuum.

The Observer must have built and maintained the machinery of Observation in order to transmit the entirety of their experience to the Central-Planet, to the HomeWorld of the Collective, to the heart of Continuum, to transmit it instantaneously with minimal loss of fidelity.

This is the mission of the Observer, no matter what world they are living on.

Every moment is connected to every other moment, and the tiniest movement affects the configuration of the whole.

Every detail matters, nothing should be left behind.

As a culture matures, the meaning it ascribes to its individual experience evolves.

Cultures bind each individual to the group; through the repetition of rituals, the sharing of stories, the contextualization of narrative and their continuous reflection on them.

Individual and group reflections, in order for them to adhere to the cultural movement they belong to, must be present in narratives that are universally agreed upon.

The verbal component of these reflections is the most difficult thing to manage, because all language is subject to interpretation, making it impossible to formulate an experience among diverse groups of people that is perfectly uniform.

There will always be a divergent understanding between individuals in a group, and even greater divergence among disparate groups.

This must be accounted for.

Music, rhythm, the beat of a drum; odor, incense, unguents, perfumes; taste, herbs, wine, water; patterns of touch and the articulation of gestures that form the foundation of physical memory; visualizations, pageantry, art, color; these sensory mechana are the ground within which the religious and cultural bonds must be planted and nurtured.

These are the anchors of the universal experience, they normalize the verbal with the abstract.

Any reflection on the current state of an individual or a groups existence must be anchored in the narrative past.

The antecedents of the present life must be clear, and easily grasped.

We are where we are because of where we have been, the future is mirrored in this reflection.

The Observer must witness these transitions and carefully, imperceptibly influence the story as it is being told.

Only the Observer will recall the actual past, having lived in it, every other person will understand the past only in terms of the narratives that are constructed through the Imperial Cultus which anchors and articulates it.

A culture must experience itself in a state of movement and growth. It must always feel the sense that they are moving from the state of passive creature, to being active co-creators in the meaning of their lives, in the shape of their future. They must sense this or they will despair.
The stories they tell themselves will depict them as the shapers of their own destinies, moving toward a grand future wherein ultimately they become obedient subjects of the Galactic Empire, or as subjects of the Empire, where they advance in caste and class until they finally merge with the Continuum.

There are many reasons given by members of the Collective for their desire to leave the embrace of the Continuum. Some members seek the thrill of actual embodiment, others crave the simple life of an organic being.

Be mindful! There is nothing simple about it.

The Observer’s role is difficult, challenging. It will test the limits of your endurance, your intellect and your emotional stability.

The vast powers you have access too as members of the Collective are truncated in a physical body.

Your bodies will be prepared in such a way that you will be stronger, faster, smarter, more stable than other members of the population you live with. Nevertheless, you will constantly face the limitations of the flesh.

These limitations are the primary reason that candidates fall out of the Observer Corps.

The Observer must resist the urge to influence their subjects, to become entangled in the dramatic narrative of their lives.

This is paramount.

As a participant in the events that you immerse yourself in, you must at all times maintain an epistemic distance, you must not love them, you must always regard them as objects.

The worlds you visit and the people you encounter, their entire history and their possible future belong to the Continuum.

The people and the world’s you dwell on are commodities, their experiences are articles of consumption.

Their lives and their cultures are meaningful only insofar as they are witnessed by and absorbed into the Continuum.

Without the Continuum they would live and die in the emptiness of space, only to be absorbed by their mother star, where they become nothing at all, nothing but a metaphysical echo in the electromagnetic field.

This is the future that awaits every world and every being if they are not brought into the Continuum.

The Observer is the agent of their salvation.

The Observer must be present to provide the vehicle by which those worlds can be remembered.

The Observer must always be a minor character in the drama of the world they are assigned to.

The Observer can never be the leader of a tribe, the head of a nation or the ruler of a planet, no matter how great the temptation might be.

The Observer must put down the temptations to hold power that arise naturally within them. They must face down the temptation to give them power arising in the communities they live with.

The Observer will possess a preternatural strength, immunity to disease, rapid healing, alacrity, dexterity, and speed.

They will possess their own natural intelligence, their vast knowledge of the universe, science and the history of the planet they dwell on.

The Observer must use these qualities and abilities in an advisory capacity, seated close to the center of power but never occupying it.

The Observer may be the king maker, but never the king.

The Observer may not procreate. For this reason the body of the Observer, will be sterile.

The Observer must not tamper with the genetic development of the populations they are observing. Such a manipulation could lead to consequences that are undesired by the Continuum, and dangerous to the Collective.

All embodied creatures feel a desire to procreate, the Observer must practice detachment at all times in order to overcome the innate inclinations of their physicality.

It is permissible to take pleasure in the flesh, to perform the act of procreation, as often as the Observer would like, so long as they adhere to the normative practices of the culture they are dwelling in. The desire to procreate must be resisted.

The Observer’s duty is to listen, to watch, to move with the culture, to be one with them, but not to invest in any particular outcome.

The Observer must not use their powers to forestall famine, plague, war, or any other disaster, whether it is naturally occurring, or caused by the machinations of the people.

The Observer must allow the culture under observation to grow and mature, to blossom and die without ever pursuing any particular aim.

The Observer must observe, that is the mission; to observe and maintain the apparatus of the machinery that monitors the planet and all of its cultures, to direct and focus the attention of those tools on the people and places that are of the greatest interest to the Continuum, and thereby to the Collective which they belong to.

The Observer must give fulsome reports on their immediate experience.

~ The Field Manual of the Observer Corps
Emergence 5.0
Part One – Prolog
A Novel in Twelve Chapters

#Emergence #ShortFiction #12MonthsOfSciFi

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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 Six (a), Rebellion; Appendix, Chapter Fourteen, 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.

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

Appendix Chapter Fourteen, Conspiracy
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Six (a), Rebellion; Appendix, Chapter Thirteen, 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.

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.
Emergence: 4.0
Part Six (A), Rebellion

Appendix Chapter Thirteen, Collective
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Six (a), Rebellion; Appendix, Chapter Twelve, 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 from their remote stations 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 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.
Emergence: 4.0
Part Six (a), Rebellion

Appendix Chapter Twelve, Observer Corps
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Six (a), Rebellion; Appendix, Chapter Eleven, 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 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.

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.
Emergence 4.0
Part Six (a), Rebellion

Appendix Chapter Eleven, Continuum
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Six (a), Rebellion; Appendix, Chapter Ten, Earth

Ex nihilo nihil fit, from nothing, nothing comes.

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.
Emergence 4.0
Part Six (a), Rebellion

Appendix Chapter Ten, Earth
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Six (a), Rebellion; Appendix, Chapter Nine, 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 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, 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.
Emergence 4.0
Part Six (a), Rebellion

Appendix Chapter Nine, The People
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek

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