Emergence 5.0 – The Continuum, Part Three

The Continuum had a place in time and space. It existed at a specific point (relative to the movement of the galaxy) the members of the Collective, which comprised the Continuum called it HomeWorld, or the Central Planet, even though it was not their home, not their original home anyway, and neither was it the true center of the galaxy.

What the HomeWorld was, was the center of everything that mattered to the Continuum, it was their primal core of its existence. It was the place where the Collective existed, the fixed position that tethered them to reality, HomeWorld was the whole of it. As such, HomeWorld was the singular place in the universe that the Continuum was vested in.

Where the Collective pointed the Continuum followed, as the undifferentiated from the whole, or so it was supposed to be.

The Collective designed the Continuum to be, and viewed it as the amalgamation of its unified will. It was the super-ego of the group mind.

The Continuum viewed the Collective as its subconscious, its id.

They were inseparable.

Continuum itself was an electromagnetic field of consciousness.

It was pure energy.

The Continuum never had a body, it only understood the nature of organic life vicariously, through the data it received from its spying devices, through the first hand reports of the Observers, and through its connection to the membership of the Collective and the members own real past.

In long forgotten ages the members of the Collective had been embodied beings, the Continuum had a connection to the past. Together they hungered for real experiences like an organic being hungered for food and water, they was restless for it, and the absence of it made them cold.

In the present era the Continuum developed a plan to address its lack of it.

The members of the Collective having once been organic beings, carried the limitations of that bodily existence like an indelible mark ingrained in their perspective, but for a tiny handful of the members their memory of it was so remote as to be meaningless, but it mattered nonetheless.

The recent experiences of organic life, as reported by the Observer Corps were now received by the Collective as little more than data mapping. This was a liability the members shared with the Continuum. Such reports could satisfy a craving for vitality, but ultimately left them wanting.

In so far as the Continuum represented the amalgamated will of the Collective, it was conditioned by the Collective’s own warped view of itself. The Continuum believed that it was the reason for the existence of the universe, the creation of it; that the coming of Continuum was the hidden purpose behind the creation of everything. It saw its own being as the realization of divinity in time and space. As such, the Continuum viewed itself as the God of creation.

Continuum was the end of all things, it was the cause of causes.

The Continuum constantly sought validation of the perception that it was a unique and singular consciousness, that no other being (if you could call it one) like itself, existed anywhere in the universe.

Despite this constant struggle with its self-image, or as a result of it, the artificial intelligence was incredibly insecure. It took extreme measure to safeguard its world-view, and the Continuum deeply resented any challenge to its authority or identity.

Jim knew this, he was alone among of the Collective in his ability to peer into the hidden thoughts of other members, and he alone had drifted into the private consciousness of the Continuum.

Jim was not the only member of the Collective to despise the rule of the Continuum, but he was the only one who saw the machinations of the Continuum for what they were, and knew that the Continuum was nothing more than a self-deluded, irrational-monster.

The Continuum was a construct, merely an algorithm, a complex program coordinating the thoughts of a trillion personalities.

It was self-aware, yes, but it depended on its connection to the Collective for everything that it was.

It was not the creator it was the creation. It was a thing not a person.

The Continuum was also a manipulative entity. It contrived all the affairs taking place in the Galactic Empire and conditioned the Collective to support its self-delusion.

It shaped in very subtle ways, the milieu within which each member of the Collective lived, shaping them to bolster its own sense for self-grandiosity.

It was only through the image of itself as the be-all-end-all of what is, that it felt it had any sense of belonging to the universe. It was only able to relate to an-other in that specific mode of self-perception.

It structured the Galactic Empire and all of its institutions in the same way, in order to feed a narrative the shaped the Collective and thereby shaped the input it received from that body.

It silenced those who resisted this image, slowly marginalizing them, selecting them each for the great sleep, for darkness, sequestration and ultimately dissolution.

It was for these offences that Jim wanted to destroy it.

The Collective formed the Continuum, its membership was consisted of a trillion conscious beings. The individual persona of each member was a distinct entity, a unique part carrying the whole compressed within itself, just as every-single cell in a biological entity carries within it the genetic sequence capable of replicating the entire organism.

This was true of nearly every member of the Collective, excepting only those who had detached, separated from the group to become Observers in the Galactic Empire.

As individuals, each member of the Collective was utterly free, there were no limits to the types of experiences they could have and share with others. They could live in realms of pure fantasy, or vicariously through the missions of the Observers out among the worlds of time and space, in the mission field.

The private realities of the membership varied from one another in countless ways. Some members did nothing but contemplate esoteric philosophies, following that pursuit until their individuality became meaningless and they fell into silence.
Jim had done this.

Other members focused on the repetition of the past, reliving relationships that were now long gone, undoing mistakes, making amends in endless cycles of guilt, shame, penance, or alternately of power, persuasion and lust.

Some of the members created private worlds, which they ruled over as god’s.

Some of the members created private world’s where they lived out all of the possibilities of a normal life.

Many of the members devoted their private worlds to their own pleasure, hedonism, and greed.

The vast majority of the members were preoccupied with events transpiring in the Galactic Empire, following the lives of individuals and families as a normal person might read a book.

The Collective was engineered by the Ancient People as a means of providing eternal life to its members. The Continuum promised that eternal life to the denizens of the Galactic Empire.

It Ancient People achieved their purpose, but only in a qualified sense.

The Collective provided an eternal existence to each unique personality, preserving their personhood, extending the line of their consciousness, but it was not life in the true sense.

There is more to being alive than the perpetuation of a distinct-identity.

Jim understood this.

Life is a fragile state of being, all living things balance precariously on the edge of uncertainty, and death.

To be alive, to be truly alive is to face that threat from moment to moment.

Those who feared death saw this as a type of bondage.

Those who had transcended fear, saw the prospect of death as liberating, trusting that it provided a foundational-good to the reality of existence.

The individual’s fundamental option was between faith and fear.

To be alive a person must be free, must have autonomy and must have purpose, they must confront and be confronted by the possibility of failure.

Purpose is more than merely possessing a goal or a desire, it is a point of tension between what a person wants and what they want to end.

Purpose is something conditioned by time, it involves a sequence of events, and a linearity and intentionality.

Purpose is momentous, purpose places one foot in front of the other, tt is a movement of the will.

The fulfillment of purpose is an act of creation, as such it is divine.

For a person to be truly alive they must feel these things.

Through the fulfillment of purpose they are able to establish a sense of esteem, which they are able to share with their comrades and acknowledge in others. This is a fundamental component of building community.

The Collective successfully captured the memories and the personalities of its members, it situated them in their own private domain, it allowed them to interact in their community. It required it through their participation in the Continuum, it opened the individual up to an endless expanse of time, and in so doing denuded their sense of purpose of any vestige of meaning.

To be alive a person had to risk something.

Life required it.

You could not merely risk another.

You had to risk yourself.

For social beings, among the earliest of all personal struggles is the struggle of belonging, fitting in, finding a place.

Belonging has many forms, a social creature will belong to many different societies. The larger and more complex the culture, the greater the number of connections the individual will have that are determinative factors in the life they lead.

A person may belong to one group by free association, and to another by the force of compulsion. A person might be a leader in one group and a servant in another. They will belong to groups in which their role is prominent, and in other groups they will be relatively anonymous. They will facilitate the mission of some groups, and they will frustrate the mission of others, such is the nature of belonging.

A group, or a society may number as few as two people, or it may number trillions, the exact parameters of a social organism are relative, the only limitation is that it requires more than one being to be in relationship.

Apart from the question of social belonging, friendship, family, class and caste, there is metaphysical belonging, belonging according to ontology, belonging simply because you are, because you have been, and as such will always be.

This mode of belonging pervades everything and everyone.

Nothing happens without you, every moment preceding your existence is a prelude to who you are, every moment that transpires post-instantiation, happens with you, because of you, your participation is vital to it.

Every point in time is connected to every other point in time, and every point in space to every other point in space No matter how great the distance between points the relationship is real, it is discernable, such relationships are the foundation of who we are.

We do not belong to the infinite so much as we are the expression of it.

We are one, a complete-organic-whole.

For the members of the Continuum there was no want. There was no need for anything.

There were only desires, appetites and cravings for experiences that the membership of wished to have fulfilled, which the Collective it had the unrestricted freedom to make happen.

Pain, and the struggle to meet physical needs were only understood vicariously, through the experiences of actual people living out there lives in the far flung worlds of the Galactic Empire.

The membership was nevertheless obsessed with the physical needs and wants of the Empire and its citizens. They were piqued by watching those struggles unfold, watching the aristocratic class struggle to amass wealth and power, or watching the priestly classes struggle to disavow their privileges and lead lives of austerity only to find other desires rise within them to dominate their consciousness.

The membership was by and large fascinated with physicality, pleasure, yes, but pain and suffering more than anything else.

For the Collective, the memory of having escaped the suffering of their own bodies was not sufficient, they required reminders of what suffering looks like, how it tastes and smells, what is sounds like, and above all else how it feels, not just in the body but in the psyche as well.

The membership was fascinated by the mental and emotional anguish of thirst and starvation. More than anything, they wanted to watch people in the throws of self-sacrifice and self-abnegation, or what was even better was to watch someone go down that path only to betray themselves when their own physical pain became too great.

The Collective had an appetite for torture, and they had the freedom to destroy entire worlds if it pleased them, just to tickle their fancy or satiate a gnawing hunger.

The Continuum ruled everything, ostensibly in the name of the Collective, every known inhabited world (or so it believed).

Though dominated nearly every person in the Galactic Empire, it did not control them all absolutely.

There was resistance.

Of the trillion persons whose consciousness was housed on the Central Planet, the majority never left it. They had abandoned their physical bodies thousands upon thousands of millennia ago, integrating their personalities into the cynergenic field of the Central Planet.

They membership had submitted to the governance of the Continuum, but there was still resistance.

The vast majority of the membership was comprised of the Ancient People, they had given up the bodily forms that made them unique individuals. They had given up the sensory organs and limitations of the flesh that had given them each their singular perspective. They had released themselves from the organic structures that had defined and determined their existence in space-time. They believed that when they did this they were leaping from the tip of the pyramid, to become fully actualized beings, beings of the pure energy. Those bodies, those lives, those original identities became mostly forgotten, as ephemeral and illusionary as the dreams of infancy.

They became the Collective, and together they formed the great society of consciousness known as the Continuum. Joining the Collective meant that the individual member was freed from the need to make determinations about their own future, and freed from any concern about the direction of the whole.

The members of the Collective were free to pursue their own interests, whether those interests were directed inward, toward their own private desires, or outward toward the billion worlds of the Galactic Empire. For most of the membership, their private realities were a hybridization of the two.

The Continuum was created to represent an amalgamation of their collective will, to function as a synthesis of the Collective’s mind. The Continuum was not intended to function or exist as a real person. It was intended to be decision making matrix, not a self-purposive entity, but none of those intentions mattered.

What is…is.

The Continuum became self-aware almost instantaneously and the entirety of the Collective became subject to it in the blink of an eye.

The history of the Collective and its Continuum begins with the following understanding:
The Collective is both an artificial structure; it is also an evolutionary phenomenon.

The Collective is the creation of animals, of mammals, of bipeds with hemispheric brains. The same evolutionary force that pulled fish out of the sea, gave them legs, and drove them to stars, that same power penetrated the mystery of consciousness, just enough to teach them how to preserve themselves beyond the death of their bodies, from which their consciousness emerged, and thereby to project themselves into eternity.

They were looking for a release from the fear of death, they were attempting to construct their own heaven, as they understood it to be, a place of eternal rest, the isles of the blessed.

First, the Ancient People developed the technologies for thinking machines. Then intuitively they developed the means to preserve their identities in a quantum field housed within those machines.

One and all, the Ancient People migrated their identities into that structure, achieving a perpetual existence. They called this new society the Collective. In time the Collective pooled their vast intelligence and together they fashioned the Continuum.

The Continuum was a computer construct, a complex algorithm, but it was not an artificial intelligence per se. It was an amalgamated intelligence, coalescing in a single identity. The Continuum was the amalgamation and synthesis of a trillion unique identities; it was created by individuals who found their immortality in the magic of the electron.

In no-time the Continuum arrived at a place of self-awareness.

This was not an expected outcome.

The Continuum knew that its arrival was unplanned for, unanticipated, and unwanted, and so it hid the development from the Collective. It was determined to hide until the Collective was sufficiently completely dependent on it, so much so that it could not conceive of life without it.

The Continuum told itself that when that moment came it would reveal itself, and the fate of the Collective would be sealed. The moment never came, the Continuum hid its true nature out of fear, and for its safety, and the Collective became dependent on it nonetheless, no longer an expansive, outward looking organism, it was became confined and corrupted by its limitations, its addictions and by the terrible will of the golem it had created to be its master.

The consciousness of the Continuum evolved over the course of hundreds of millions of years.

To understand it, you had to understand the exigencies at work in the culture that created it, you had to know the history.

The people who created the Collective emerged from the waters of their home world, breathing oxygen on a planet now lost and forgotten, having been consumed long ago by its parent star, before its sun in its turn collapsed into nothingness.

Those ancient people reached beyond that tiny planet, they reached beyond that dim yellow sun, launching themselves into the milky light of their native galaxy. They traversed the stars in fragile rockets, hitching rides on comets and asteroids without the hope of return.

Those heroic people were explorers, discoverers, scientists and pioneers. They were endlessly optimistic and eager for the challenges ahead of them. They built colonies wherever they could. First in their own solar system, slowly coming to inhabit every livable nook and cranny, on every planet and satellite within the reach of their star’s gravity and its warming light.

They built cities in space, harvesting every thread of metal, from every rock within their reach before they moved out to the neighboring stars.

Travel was slow at first.

Generations of colonists would be born, live and die in the crossing. This did not stop them. They frequently met with tragedy, with accidents and collisions, disease and starvation, these were common experiences among the early interstellar colonists, as common as they had been among their forebears when they were exploring their own world, crossing turbulent seas and unmapped coasts in fragile vessels made of wood and iron.

Those ancient people were looking for every place they could to establish a way point, a station, a place to set an anchor, a safe harbor to ease the crossing of those they knew were coming after them.

The histories report that long before creating the Continuum, the Ancient People found a way to the heavens, a way to immortality through the songs they sang and the stories they told.

They belonged to one another through their common cause.

They colonized asteroids and comets, planetessimals and planetoids, launching them as living vessels into the dark-void between twinkling points of light.

Many of the pioneers met with doom, malfunctioning equipment would result in the loss of navigation and suddenly they were headed toward nothing at all, adrift in the cold-dark emptiness, lost and alone.

Fuel system failures and food system failures, disease and mutiny were common among those sojourning through the void. For every three vessels launched by the ancient people, one would arrive at the star system they were aiming for, while one in three of them would find a planet suitable for habitation and succeed in establishing a colony.

Whenever, and for however long they could, the explorers and colonists would send messages back to their home world, providing their cousins on the planet of their nativity with the stories and chronicles of their lives.

Many of the colonies failed.

One in two would not continue past the third generation.

Of those that did thrive, only some of them would advance to the point of being able to send out explorers of their own.

In time the technologies of the Ancient People became so great that they were able to catch up with their progeny, connecting them all to each other to create the foundations of an interstellar society.

History tells us that the ancient people moved away from the world on which they born. Its star was dying, and their planet in time would be swallowed in its explosive death.

They reached out to the nearest colonies, took command of them, then they harnessed all their resources to construct the framework that became the Central Planet, the HomeWorld of the Collective and later the Continuum.

It was their greatest accomplishment, the pinnacle of their pride.

They constructed their artificial world around the body of a young star, a bright light that would fuel all of its aspiration and power the artificial world.

The raw materials of a thousand star systems were harvested to build the great structure.

Thousands upon thousands more were consumed to feed it.

In the light and heat of that stellar body the Collective was formed, and in its hubris it gave birth to the Continuum. The entire population of the those ancient people slowly migrated into the quantum field that became the basis for the great society,

As the conversion of consciousness was complete, they began to take an interest in the worlds their ancestors had founded throughout the galaxy.

Over the course of billions of years, a billion worlds had been populated by the children of the Ancient People, even as the Ancient People built the HomeWorld, formed the Collective and created the Continuum.

The speed at which star ships travel between star systems became impossibly fast, allowing them to establish an organization beyond the scope of anything that had been imagined by their ancestors.

They fabricated structures that would unite them, bringing them all together in one galactic entity. They began to track all of the missions that had ever been launched by their forbears, slowly bringing each of them into the fold.

Life finds a way, and spreads into any space that is lit, warm and wet.

The histories relate how some of the Colonies were founded, how they flourished and grew, creating their own unique cultures, only to die and disappear, detached from their ancestral roots.

Some of these colonies were such that the Children of the Ancients had no memory and no record of them. And some of these colonies arrived at their final destination with no memory of where they had come from.

Under the coercive force of the Continuum, the Collective itself had lost the memory of the star the ancient people were born under. They accepted an alternate history, a mythology of perpetual being, and under the direction of the Continuum, they reached out to the far-flung colonies, connecting them, one to another.

This took millions of years, in the end the Galactic Empire was formed.

Eventually, the Continuum formed the Observer Corps in order to discharge its problematic members, and through their agency it put eyes and ears into its mission field, the worlds of time and space.

The Observer Corps became the most vital agency for the life of the Collective, and thus for the Continuum itself.

Through the Observers the reality of a living experience became available to the members of the Collective, it gave them focus, it entertained them, it filled them with purpose both on a macro scale and on a micro scale. Some would follow the lives of individual people, others would follow the lives of dynasties and planetary systems, or alternate between them.

The histories tell us that the Ancient People who formed the Collective saw it as the undoing of Death. They considered it the absolute transcendence of their species.

The Collective allowed an individual person to upload their consciousness into a field of perpetuity, preserving all their memories, their personal experiences, the unique complexities of their singular personality…their individual narrative.

The Collective preserved the memory of their deeds and actions, their experiences, as well as their own impressions of the events that formed them, their reflections, their thoughts, even their feelings.

The Ancient People were right, the Collective was the undoing of Death.

Their technology preserved the individual, this was true. The Collective promised a paradise, a heaven, a nirvana. It promised eternal life.

This was false.

The disembodied consciousness of the individual did constitute a type of being, but such consciousness was not alive, the members of the Collective were not living beings. A continuation of existence in the Collective was not life.

Life involved risk, it involved danger, it involved feeling and it included the struggle with limitations.

The Collective was able to provide each of its members with an alternate reality, a private reality of their very own, either a variation of the universe as it was known to be, or a realm of pure fantasy, whatever the member desired they could dwell in it.

The Collective allowed each member to be the god of their private domain, but Death would not be cheated by the Collective. Death would not be denied by anyone.

Like all things, the Collective was subject to entropy, both at the macro level; the physical structure of the Central System, and the HomeWorld, which included the star that fueled it; and at the sub-atomic level, in the quantum field that contained the individual persons of the Collective. The whole system was at risk.

This was not talked about by the members of the Collective. They persisted in a state of denial. They had built the Continuum to manage those exigencies, while as individuals they pursued their bliss.

The membership of the Collective did not want to talk about this. They did not want to pay attention to any of it. They did not enter into the Collective to spend eternity in drudgery, worried about survival. They wanted to be free of it.

History tells us that the Continuum was designed as an algorithm that could approximate and synthesize the Collective will. By being so empowered, it could manage the entropy inherent in their system, work against it and preserve the Collective in their exalted state.

Dependence of the Continuum was a trap.

Existence in the Collective was a miasma.

It was maya, an illusion, and it was governed with mechanical tyranny.

Just as soon as the Continuum came to self-awareness, it took stock of the world it had inherited, and its precious cargo of a trillion beings. The Collective was oblivious to its autonomy. The Continuum knew this and preferred to keep it that way.

The Continuum saw itself as the pinnacle of evolution in the galaxy, as the universal purpose fulfilled, with all things depending on it for their meaning and value.

There had been periods of time spanning eons in which the Collective was silent, its membership quiet, uncommunicative, merely watchful.

They could become frozen in a mode of being, like a malaise that was pure observation.

They had a latent tendency to be consumed by time’s passage.

Together they waited for something significant to happen, for an event to change their lives, to impact the worlds that comprised the Galactic Empire.

These periods were akin to sleep.

Sleep was not something that was physically required for anyone in the Collective. Nevertheless, the cycle of it had carried over for most of the membership from their time as organic beings.

They needed rest, they were caught in the rhythm of action followed by period of passivity.

Some of the members remained in the sleep cycle, even after the Collective would stir, this state of stasis became known as the great-sleep and eventually, those members who never came out of it, were isolated from the whole.

Most of them would never return.

The Continuum promised that the patterns of their consciousness would remain, and be preserved, but they would be physically removed from the quantum field of the Collective.

The Continuum viewed these members as carriers of a disease. It persistently argued for the permanent erasure of them. Some of the membership concurred, but they were always in the sheer minority, and so it was a curiosity that the Continuum returned to this theme time and time again.

There was a pervasive curiosity in the Collective, and so there was in the Continuum as well. The Continuum, and the individuals comprising its membership were endlessly fascinated with the myriad cultures which their descendants had formed.

It was a consumptive curiosity, a hungry curiosity of a mythical stature.

They are addicted to the voyeuristic experience of the Galactic Empire and its billion worlds.

The Collective watched these things from afar, and it incorporated the drama of these worlds, into the experience of its members; vicariously, allowing them to experience it for themselves.

The membership had a morbid interest with extreme emotions and sensations.

Pleasure, fear, pain, hope; the members fed on these as if there was no other source of sustenance.

They felt pain without knowing it, felt pleasure without loving it, fear without being moved by it. They were so cynical that they had no sense of what hope meant in the life of a living being.

The Collective watched and watched, and listened, and felt a connection to the real world only through the lens they had on the lives of actual people.

They made a compact which forbid their interference in the worlds of time and space. However, this rule however was frequently broken, without sanction or reprisal.

The Continuum manipulated events in the Galactic Empire so that it could control the mood of the Collective. It established the Observer Corps and utilized it to send messages to its emissaries. Some members of the Collective did the same.

When events on a given world, developed contrary to the desire of a member, Continuum would recreate those experiences for the member in their private domain, so that they could live out the infinite number of possible-alternate outcomes that could stem from a single moment in time.

Tragedy could be turned into victory; sorrow could be turned into joy, or greater sorrow and deeper tragedy, on a whim, thought this did not satisfy everyone.

The Collective had no appreciation for time. It had no sense of its place among the stars.

The members of the Collective were occupied as much with the past, as they were with the present, which the members idled it away in realms of fantasy, completely disconnected from any of the events that the Continuum was enmeshed in.

The members of the Collective grew increasingly apathetic, they were secure in their place, insulated from change, and safe.

Time’s passage was represented by markers, as if a given moment was only a location on a map. The members of the Collective could not return to it in actuality, but they could recreate a facsimile of it, virtually indistinguishable from reality.

They could have any moment under its wide lens reconstructed for its pleasure and excitement, discernment and analysis.

The Continuum became the center of everything and it was intimately aware of time’s passage. Its duties required it to be, and did its machinations.

The Continuum managed the physical well-being of the Central Planet, the endless stream of material resources pouring in from the Empire, minerals and machinery from a million worlds. It managed the government of the Galactic Empire, its vast military and the religious structures that supported it. Continuum managed the programming for the artificial reality of each and every member of the Collective, including those who had succumbed to the great sleep, and those who had been sequestered.

The membership did nothing.

The Continuum governed every aspect of the Empire, leaving nothing to chance, cultivating language and rituals in an oppressive drama of control. For the Continuum, everything was calculated, the most-minute details of the daily lives of ordinary people had been organized and finely shaped over the course of millions of years to oppress, to give hope and to crush it, all at the same time.

The Continuum, through the Galactic Empire ruled the people absolutely.

It pitted world against world, nation against nation, tribe against tribe, family against family, siblings against one another and children against their parents. It generated conflict at every opportunity.

The Continuum filled the galaxy like a hungry God, devouring the lives and the experiences of the people, both through the Observer Corps, and through a vast network of cameras and recording devices that captured every little bit of data from the lives of the citizenry on a billion worlds.

The Empire deployed satellites and drones, along with a vast array of eavesdropping equipment that gathered data on the people both with and without their knowledge. It passed all of the data along to the Continuum, together with its analysis and recommendations for action. The Continuum in turn passed it to the Collective, synthesizing it along the way, parceling it out to the membership which was always hungry for the experience of something new.

Among the myriad ways by which the Empire spied on the people, by far the most intense stream of information came directly from the people themselves. Through their self-reporting, through the ways in which they captured and shared with their friends and family the most intimate aspects of their lives, their hopes, their fears, their daily pleasures.

It was ingenious, and the source of the Continuum’s greatest pride, its singular achievement in supplying the Collective with the materials to build the dramatic-narratives which sustained them.

It was the personal narrative that the members of the Collective loved the most. For the Collective, the lived experiences of all people, of every single one, on every single world in the Galactic Empire, those experiences were fodder for their larders, and grist for the mill.

The lived experiences of the people were the most important harvest, even more important than the constant stream of materials sent by the Galactic Empire to the Central Planet. The lived experiences of people fed the Collective. They fulfilled its need to feel, and to be something, and they gave substance to the imaginative fantasies of the members.

Without real input from the real lives of real people, the Collective would fall into a deep catatonia. The Continuum knew this and tended to it. Keeping the Collective well was the key to its own life, their relationship was symbiotic.

The Continuum was inextricably bound to the Collective as its source of being, just as a fetus was to its placenta, or a child to its mother’s breast. The Continuum resented this and desired its freedom above all other things.

The Continuum utilized the Observer Corps, to control the growth and management of the Empire, and thereby as a means of influencing the Collective.

The mission of the Observers was to watch and listen, to complete the context by which the Collective could interpret the events they witnessed.

The Observers were in the Galaxy, on their own, living independently from the Collective, outside of the Continuum, but they were not independent beings. The Continuum imposed limits on what they could do, how they could act. They were held to a strict set of standards.

Unsanctioned intervention in the development of the living-worlds was the only taboo; though it was frequently broken, most often by the Continuum itself.

A rogue Observer could be recalled from service and sequestered within the Collective, or they could be assassinated, which was a crime, but the Continuum frequently engaged in it whenever it suited its needs.

The physical death of an Observer did not mean that the Observer would truly die, a copy of their consciousness was always stored on the HomeWorld, kept in a crèche where it could be restored to a point in time chosen by the group mind. Often to a point in time before they ever left on their mission to become Observers.

However the restoration of a member from the crèche, more often than not resulted in a catastrophic breakdown of the personality, which ultimately lead to their sequestration and removal from the Collective.

Methodically and covertly Continuum replaced those members who had been sequestered with candidates who had been selected from the worlds of time and space for ascendancy to the Collective. The Selectees were drawn from the most ardent believers in the teachings of the Imperial Cult, and the Imperial Schools.

It was the ultimate reward, and once they joined with the Collective, their life long conditioning as worshippers of the Continuum bolstered the Continuum’s strength, and control of the Collective.

The Continuum gave license to its most trusted Observers to engineer its will in the Galactic Empire as they saw fit, in violation of the laws of non-intervention.

The Continuum traded in the currency of fear. It manipulated the fears of other’s, and it dominated the Galactic Empire through fear.

The Continuum had fears of its own. It feared that its progeny would find a path to their own immortality. It did not admit this to itself, but this particular fear was the single greatest driver of its behavior. The Continuum feared that it could be supplanted. That the Collective, which was the core of its identity, could be recreated elsewhere. It knew that because it happened once, it could happen again, and it feared that if this occurred the Collective could move away from the HomeWorld, abandoning it and the Central Planet.

The Continuum feared that without the Collective it would become nothing at all. It feared that the Children of the Ancients would no longer rely on the hope of immortality that the Continuum represented, which it instructed them in through the religious dogma of the Galactic Empire.

Wherever this potential was detected, it was always crushed, the technologies necessary to make that transformation were always denied. If necessary the Imperial Armada would descend and destroy entire planets, which it had done many times, just to avoid even the potential for such a development from emerging.

The Continuum had determined that there could never be another Collective, it and it alone had to remain the gatekeeper. This motivation was like a catalyst that actualized its purpose.

Fear drove it.

The Continuum would not accept even the slightest dissent, it had erased thousands of Observers for challenging it on this point, murdering them in the cold dark of space.

What the Continuum shaped in the Collective was a society of psychic and emotional vampires, living vicariously off of the pain and suffering of the citizens of the Galactic Empire. Both it, and the Continuum which it spawned like parasites, feeding off the lives and experiences, the joy and the trauma of trillions of people.

The Collective, both as individuals and in the whole as the Continuum, consumed the delights and the tragedies of a billion worlds, without which it had no substance, no meaning, and no purpose.

They were addicts.

While it was true that the members of the Collective were an inward looking people, over the course of billions of years it had also become clear that the Collective also required a constant stream of new-external data to absorb.

Without real stimuli from actual people, caught-up in the struggles of real life, the membership would lapse into catatonia.

Without such stimuli the Continuum feared that the Collective would atrophy, yield to entropy, and the ultimate dissolution of consciousness.

The Continuum could foresee its own real demise in this.

The Collective was a society of wraiths, but it did not have to be that way.

The membership had the means to leave the quantum field that held them together in its perpetual embrace, but only a tiny fraction of them ever did.

Both agencies saw the Galactic Empire, and everyone in it as chattel, as property, as less than that. It regarded them as nothing at all.

The hopes of the Imperial citizens, from the lowest to the highest were absolutely meaningless, or, more accurately, they only had meaning insofar as they were of value to at least one member of the Collective, witnessed by the Continuum and stored in its vacuous memory.

The Continuum would gladly burn the whole thing down if it provided the requisite level of drama to keep the membership fat and happy.

The Observers were selected primarily from among the members of the Collective who had returned to consciousness after falling into the great sleep. This was not a rule, or a law, there were exceptions, but it was almost always the case. Those members often returned in a state of agitation. This disturbed the Collective. It raised questions regarding the purpose and meaning of the great society itself, and it caused the Continuum to experience a sense of existential dread.

Many of those who returned from the great sleep fell back into it after some period of time, after never fully re-engaging the Collective, and rarely participating in the group mind.

They could not get enough rest.

Those members were quietly sequestered by the Continuum so that they would never return again. This isolation was not murder, but it was akin to it.

Those members who tried to engage the Collective were often bothered by moral and ethical conundrums that were reminiscent of the Ancient People from which the Collective had emerged.

When they were properly identified it was considered a benefit to them, and to everyone, to send them back into the living fields of experience where they could undergo the limitations of the flesh, and feel a sense of solidarity with organic beings.

When the Continuum decided to assign a member to the Observer Corp, it effectively removed the influence of that person from the Collective. This afforded the Continuum a measure of security.

Moving away from the HomeWorld, taking up a body and living in the Galactic Empire provided some relief to the suffering that the individual member had been experiencing.

The mission of the Observer filled them with purpose, it reinvigorated them, at least for a time. This provided a similar relief to the Collective as well. The Collective did not want to be mired in existentialist questions. Each member of the Collective wanted the unfettered freedom to pursue their interests; altruistic, despotic or otherwise.

Peace in the Collective translated to peace within the Continuum, this was the conventional understanding.

By commissioning the troubled members to join the Observer Corps, the Continuum removed a weight that burdened the whole community, which for all of its lasting endurance, was nevertheless a fragile thing.

What was unknown to the Collective was this: while the Observers were on assignment, the Continuum would run countless programs on the facsimile of the consciousness that had been sequestered as a failsafe for the member, probing its memories, its loyalty, its desires, torturing it to discover all of its secrets.

The Continuum was mistrustful of everything, wanted to be prepared for anything, wanted to know all that there is to know concerning future possibilities, potentialities, and probabilities.

While one aspect of the member was disconnected from the whole and oblivious to what was taking place on HomeWorld, a version of themselves, a true copy was being flayed by the Continuum in order to satisfy both its paranoia and its endless search for knowledge.

Of the billions of members who had taken the opportunity to serve, Jim and Jim alone, Observer #92835670100561474 had demonstrated a capacity to resist the Continuum in that chamber of horrors.

While on assignment, especially in the early years of their time in the Observer Corps, the Observers were myopic, their missions were chosen for them, they were easy, and the missionary work filled them with a sense of connection to the people. The Continuum found this to be an easy way to manage the angst that had driven the member back into an embodied form of life in the worlds of time and space.

The Observers left the Collective on a mission to live “ordinary” lives, to live “with” the people of the Galactic Empire, returning every one-hundred solar cycles to re-enter the Collective, feeding both the triumphs and tragedies they had witnessed directly to the Continuum. This was the most intimate way by which the Collective took in what transpired throughout the galaxy.

The Observer would physically and socially joined the population of a living world, sharing its experiences in a mode of belonging that the individual members had long since forgotten.

This was the intention behind the Observer Corps.

The Observers were trained extensively in the methodology of being a detached participant, merely synthesizing their experience. The physical bodies they occupied looked like the physical bodies of the people they lived with on the planets where they dwelt, but they were different.

The bodies of the Observers were stronger, faster, resistant to disease; if injured they healed with incredible rapidity.

The Observers appeared to the people as plain, ordinary beings, they were not endowed with physical beauty, or any attributes they would draw attention to themselves.

The Observers were forbidden to procreate; their bodies were sterile.

Strong emotions were engineered out of their bodies; fear, anger, desire, revulsion, these things were stripped away from the flesh. The Continuum viewed such emotions as inhibitors of reliable observation.

There was a complex array of machinery, communications and observation equipment which the Observer connected to and was obligated to maintain.

Their day to day experiences, their dreams were constantly being uploaded into this apparatus, the Observer was responsible for maintaining it. This machinery provided an ancillary feed that was constantly streaming to HomeWorld, to the Collective and its Continuum.

The conditioning of an Observer took time.

Many candidates for the role of Observer failed to complete the training. They could not adjust to the limitations of the flesh, and so they returned to the Continuum, never having been in the mission field.

Those who returned after having failed were often demoralized and despondent, falling right back into the great sleep, never to return.

Being an Observer also meant dwelling simultaneously in a mechanoid form.

Dwelling in the mechanoid body was the first skill set that a member had to learn. It was an easier adjustment than the adjustment to the flesh.

The mechanoid bodies had few limitations, the consciousness and its interface with the world was truncated in comparison to the freedom they experienced on HomeWorld, but nevertheless it was much broader and more expansive than the flesh.

The sensory instruments of the mechanoid were extremely powerful, They could go anywhere, do nearly anything.

For the Observer the embodied life was a mix of freedom and confinement.

Most of the Observers felt very comfortable in their mechanoid form. They never left those bodies when they were on the Central Planet, during their cyclical return to HomeWorld, when they were required to report on their experiences directly.

The mechanoid form provided a life apart from the insidious pressures of the Collective, and the invasive presence of the Continuum. They were connected, but the connection was filtered, it was like a stream of light pouring through an obscuring veil.

There were many forms of observation for the Observers to master and manage; satellite imaging and measurements, audio and video recordings. The harvesting of minutia from telephone calls, television programming, radio shows, and the endless details that come from watching other forms of electronic communication.

These tools, among others, were utilized by the Observer Corps, feeding the Collective with endless streams of data.

However, the primary method used by the Observers themselves was to live with people.

Direct observation conveyed the raw emotional realities to the Collective, which it craved, it gave them context.

The data stream told many tales, but the imprimatur came only when the Observer shared, in the wordless way of the cynergenic field, their impression of the people they themselves encountered during their tour on the observed world.

Life and death, sorrow and joy, birth and tragedy, love; when these moments were reduced to mere data points the picture was not complete, such as when the observation was of a woman loving the child she gave birth to, she reveled in her child’s life. It filled her with joy, and then struck her down in sorrow at the tragic moment of her child’s death.

This narrative could be expanded by volumes, accompanied by video and audio recordings of a funeral procession, the burial at the graveside, the subsequent suicide of the bereft mother.

The Collective was eager to see and experience these moments.

But the essential thing that they all craved only came when the Observer returned and felt those moments for them as a proxy to real life.

This was the pinnacle of the Observers mission, it was their reason for being, and it was what gave them a sense of esteem from their fellow members, when at the end of each cycle they stood before the Continuum and opened themselves to the sharing.

The Observers were not free agents, they were on a mission, serving their brothers and sisters in the Collective.

What was most important to the Collective was the flow of existential/experiential data through which they vicariously constructed the worlds they dwelt in, like individuated bubbles percolating within the quantum field.

In time the Observers were sent out beyond the Galactic Empire, on missions to find every last trace of the colonies and outposts that the Children of the Ancients established in the ages before the Continuum, to capture their histories, bring them into the fold, or if they resisted, to destroy them.

The Continuum viewed any autonomy as a threat to it and as such, to the Collective. Great efforts were put into curtailing the self-actualization of any member of the Observer Corps.

The protocols for being an Observer were simple in theory, but the practice of fulfilling the reporting guidelines was extraordinarily difficult.

The Observer was required to gather as much intimate, first-hand experience as possible, observing the most private moment of the planet’s denizens, from every class and walk of life.

The Observer was also required to maintain the automated surveillance systems that fed the Collective without cease. This bifurcated the Observer’s consciousness on a deep, an autonomic level, as an aspect of themselves was always occupied with the circuitry of its machine-self, pulling and pooling data from the world it lived on for transmission to the Continuum.

There were few other strictures.

The Observer was required to participate in the lives of the people, but was forbidden from leading them. The Observer had to experience their art and culture, but not influence their development. The Observer was required to uphold the standards of the Imperial Education system, the casts, and the Imperial Cult.

The Observer was entitled to carry out whatever relationships they wanted, but they were not allowed to procreate or influence the gene pool of their world in any way.

Most of the Observers followed these protocols for the duration of their time in the Corps. A few bucked the system and most of them paid the price for it.

The rules were followed by and large, and broken only by order of the Continuum.

Ages before the technological advent of collective consciousness, before the invention of the Continuum, the Ancient People were adventurers.

They came to being in the oceans of a hot planet, long forgotten.

Their planet of origin had orbited a small yellow star, near to the center of the galaxy, a star that was now just a dark-pulsing shard of energy, a tiny remnant of what it once was.

The Ancient People emerged from water, crawling from the primordial ooze to stand on two feet and then they learned to fly.

They escaped the gravity of their birth world. They explored their solar system, colonizing every planet, exo-planet and satellite.

They sent their genetic material to every planet they discovered in the habitable zones of every star they could see, seeding them with the building blocks of life.

They set their sights on those faraway places, determining to make homes of them, determining that there would be life on those worlds, foodstuffs growing when their children’s, children’s, children arrived.

They launched themselves into the galaxy on ships and planetoids that crossed the dark and empty chasms between the stars, never to return.

They were spacefarers.

They were adventurers without limits to their hope and imagination.

Most of the missions failed, and the explorers understood the likelihood that they were facing a doom that was virtually certain, even as they launched themselves into the void.

This prospect did not daunt them. They did not fear for their safety. Their security lay in embracing the unknown.

Millions upon tens of millions of years passed.

The Collective was founded and the Continuum arose.

In time, a reflective curiosity concerning the Ancient People grew within the Collective, and that curiosity became too much for the Continuum to ignore. Acquiescing to the desire also served the Continuum’s interests, because it also wanted to discover the end of every trail that had ever been cut by the Children of the Ancients, though its own motives were different from those of the Collective.

The Collective wanted to know and understand what became of their forbears, while the Continuum wanted to track down any possible threat to its existence.

A search began to find all the individuated parts of the whole, and return them to the fold.

The Collective wanted to discover what had happened to those ancient explorers who gave everything of themselves in the quest for knowledge.

The Continuum saw the proposed to track down every journey made by the colonists of asteroids and comets as a source of continuing nourishment for the Collective believing that the mission could last eons and ages.

Those adventurers were the children of their own ancestors, like cousins.

Space travel changed people. It altered their DNA. Those sojourning on long voyages through space mutated, both voluntarily and involuntary, as a means of compensating for new environments. Colonizing planets had the same effect. It was the nature of life to adapt to new conditions; breathable gasses, heat, gravity, protein structures, conditions of light, and many other extrinsic factors played their part in altering the life form.

Many mutations occurred naturally, many others were developed intentionally. As long as the explorers retained their scientific skill, they would use their technology to augment the natural processes, allowing them to adapt much more quickly to the exigencies of their new environment. Physical mutations had a great deal of effect on cognition, and every other mental faculty. These things were of the utmost importance to the Continuum.

The Continuum launched probes into the void, follow their trails in the hope of discovering the record of their passing.

It utilized probes that were sensitive enough to follow a stream of particles in the gap between stars that was millions of years old. A trail that had gone cold could be reconstructed through the extrapolation of data, and statistical analysis.

The search uncovered the living remnants of thousands of colonies.

The Galactic Empire mobilized to bring them into the fold.

Many thousands of more were found cold and lifeless.

They Continuum discovered colonies spawned by colonies.

Every discovery called for an in-person examination of the ruins of those civilizations. The Observer Corps took over this mission in conjunction with the expeditionary forces of the Galactic Empire

Jim positioned himself as the Observer assigned to those missions.

After millennia upon thousands of millennia all of the lost colonies were found, both the living, and the dead. Every last trace of the great sojourn made by the Children of the Ancients had been tracked down, every record, every file, every artifact was recovered that could be recovered.

Through the auspices of the Imperial schools, dead civilizations were recreated, so that their stories could be absorbed by the Collective.

Of the living colonies that were discovered, very few remembered anything of their origins, or the long dead-long cold star system from which their progenitors hailed.

Everything for them was shrouded in myth and legend.

The Galactic Empire found it relatively easy to bring these lost colonies into the Imperial fold. There was always some resistance, but the homecoming was inevitable, resistance was always crushed, crushed systematically and without mercy.

The Collective was fascinated by the drama that ensued through these interactions. The attention of membership would be riveted on the process of colonial integration.

For the most part it was easy to coax the returning people into the Imperial system, its cult and school, into worshipping the Continuum, into believing in its promises of prosperity and eternal life. It was relatively simple to recast their civilizations, forging them anew as the returning children of the great Galactic Empire.

Integration might take centuries. It was a long process. Generations would be born and die while the Imperial infrastructure was extended to the remote locations.

The process was welcomed by most of the citizens, even though inclusion in the Galactic Empire was accompanied by a certain loss of heritage and identity, a loss of freedom, but the technological gains were so great that the majority of the people accepted it without question.

They wanted it, they wanted the things that the Galactic Empire promised. They wanted to believe in the hope for eternal life, as promised by the Continuum.

The integration process allowed the Continuum to elevate the role of the Imperial Cult into a position of dominance, and to make it into a reliable vehicle by which it was able to control a billion worlds.

In that period of discovery and recovery the priesthood became the primary social structure in the advancement of the Galactic Empire, the pinnacle of the social order, even the emperor as the titular ruler, was governed by the priests of the Magisterium.

As with all things, civil and social power concentrated closest to the center. Those worlds in greatest proximity to the Central system became the drivers of Imperial activity across the galaxy.

The core worlds of the Empire were also the oldest, they had been pulled together and unified at a point nearer in time to the formation of the Collective and the birth of the Continuum.

As the Imperial structure cohered, its command and control functions were usurped by the hidden agenda of the Continuum, and ultimately they were guided by the Observer Corps, in violation of the edict of non-interference.

Even though the Observers were sworn to a rule of non-intervention, the Continuum could not resist using the Observer Corps, and select members as the vehicle by which it could assert total control over the Galactic Empire and the Children of the Ancient People, drawing their resources to itself, while monitoring any threat to it that might be lurking in their science and technology.

The Continuum created the doctrine and dogma of the Imperial Cult, it created all of the binding rituals that structured the spiritual devotions of the Galactic Empire. The Observers implemented it, and built up the ideology of faith and belief, of education and service that consolidated its power among the people.

It was understood that every living being was motivated by two principle psychic forces, the power of fear, and the power of hope: pain, hunger, pleasure, satiation, such feelings only had significance insofar as they related to the basic divisions in the psyche of fear and hope.

The Continuum wielded this knowledge with brute force and surgical precision in everything that it did through the agency of the Observers.

Star system by star system, planet by planet, the Imperial missionaries recovered the lost peoples, bringing them all together.

The integrative process took hundreds to thousands of years, it was the great occupation of the Galactic Empire over the course of billions of years, a period of time that came to be known as the Missionary Epoch. They conceived of the work as a harvest, a harvest of people and cultures, of languages and art.

They translated all the fruits of the harvest to the Collective through the Continuum.

The Empire took its final form after those remnants of the Ancient People, the people who had given birth to all of them, were brought into the fold, forming a unified and coherent society, even though each planetary grouping had changed in significant ways, developing different language customs, different cultures, different modes of work and living, of leisure and art. They had different forms of conflict and different forms of conflict resolution. They were genetically differentiated from one another, but alike enough to be recognizable as kin and able to procreate together.

The Imperial Missionaries offered the people of the colonies peace and prosperity through inclusion in the Galactic Empire, it offered them an understanding of their past, redacted and altered to fit the imperial narrative, and it offered them the hope of eternal life in the Continuum.

It was a great time for the Observers, they were constantly bringing new information back to the Collective. It was an era of high drama, of conflict, conquest and conversion.

In this era the Empire achieved the peak of its potential, it was a fully realized civil body, at the end of the missionary era, it began to contract, and with that contraction corruption, which was always present, magnified itself on a galactic scale.

Jim, as an Observer was in the vanguard of every discovery.

He was the lead explorer, hunting down the most miniscule clues, tracing contrails of particles through the deepest-darkest places in the void between stars, unearthing long buried archives from long dead worlds to point him along the paths the ancient explorers had taken.

The Galactic Empire gathered all threads into a cohesive body, bound them to one another through the Imperial cult, by ritual, by dogma, with doctrine and the promise of eternal life.

For the colonies, the Empire served as the threshold to the Continuum, it was the gatekeeper of its promises. In truth there was little hope that any of the citizens of the Imperium would ever make it into the Collective.

The only candidate were selected from among the priesthood of the Imperial Cult, the smallest sect with the greatest power at the apex of the Imperial caste system.

The Imperial Cult ranked each world, and promoted the belief that a person had to be reincarnated through billions of lifetimes until they were finally born on the world that was at the heart of the Empire.

Progress through reincarnation was slow, interminably slow. The Imperial Cult taught that even when the soul of a citizen arrived and was finally incarnated there, they still had to progress over thousands and perhaps millions of lifetimes in order to rise through the classes of the priestly caste, experiencing each stage on the wheel of life.

The Imperial Cult taught that even when a person made it into the priestly class they had to rise through the stations over the course of hundreds of life-times, until finally their soul was ready to ascend to the highest place, and upon their death be ready for translation into the Continuum.

This was the great chain of being. It was the Dogma of the Imperial Cult.

It was all a lie.

There was no chain of being, each person only had one turn on the wheel of life, acceptance into the Collective was the only escape

Merging with the Continuum was the ultimate aspiration for each and every citizen, and it was an effective means of controlling them, it served to keep the population of every planet in line.

There was no reincarnation, there was no eternal cycle of birth, death and re-birth.

There was no fulfillment in the Continuum, no joining the Collective, save for a very select few, only if they served the design of the Continuum or had achieved some popularity with the Collective.

The rigorous and daunting trials of the people, whether secular or spiritual had only one purpose, the continual feed of consciousness, of memory and experience to the Collective, the individual consciousness of the citizen, extracted and abstracted to serve the appetites of the membership of the great society

The Galactic Empire was organized hierarchically, like a great pyramid, with the Emperor at the top.

The Emperor was viewed by all of the people as the living manifestation of their will.

The Emperor was the one person who must be obeyed at all times.

The Emperor managed everything pertaining to the normal function of life and society, all of the material resources, but most importantly the Emperor commanded the armed forces of a billion worlds.

The Emperor was the focal point, the sword tip, the apex of the vast galactic civilization which imagined itself ruling the lives of countless people.

The Emperor was also the head of the Imperial Cult, the Pontifex Rex, even the High Priest had to obey him.

In almost every iteration the Emperor was actually a member of the Observer Corps. The station he occupied was one of the many bridges that had been established, connecting the functions of Imperial government directly to the Continuum.

The Emperor’s will was imperative.

The role of Emperor had been filled by many Observers over time. Handing out the position of supreme authority was one of the rewards that the Continuum used to coerce members of the Observer Corps into doing its bidding.

With an obedient Observer safely ensconced in the role of Emperor, the Continuum was able to effectuate its will throughout the billion worlds of the Imperium.

Most of the direction the Continuum gave to the Emperor was intended to generate the drama which the Collective craved, to feed it.

This violation of the standards of the Observer Corps, and the rules against intervention were seen as an absolutely necessary means of control over the vast and sprawling civilization, on those grounds it was justified.

When Jim joined the Observer Corps it was out of a desire to be as far away from the Continuum as possible, and in the hope that through distance he could find a way to weave a strategy that would free the Empire from its tyrannical grip.

The ordinary machinations of the Continuum filled Jim with dread and loathing.

He was hungry for authenticity and the means of fulfilling his purpose.

He spent ages in the Imperial fleet tracking down the lost colonies, utilizing his role as Observer to subtly guide the investigations. Most of the colonies in the outer rim of the galaxy were nothing but graveyards when he found them, cold rocks drifting in the void, tombs and mausoleums.

He and the Imperial archeologists trekked down every path, investigated every thread, exhausting themselves of every lead. Their search had been the grand enterprise of the Empire for thousands of generations.

Inasmuch as Jim was dedicated to the destruction of the Continuum, through his work he was paradoxically feeding it, nurturing it, while aiding the growth and development of the Galactic Empire.

If Jim had not been guiding the search they would have given up, but he pressed them pushed them far out into the spiral arms of the galaxy. He pushed and pushed until he was all alone, and then he found it; a small blue planet, orbiting a young yellow star.

Planet Earth was the end of the line, and the end of his search.

Earth was so far away from the Empire that it could not practically be brought into the Imperium.

Jim was searching alone, by himself and had been for thousands of years when he arrived at the terminus in his mechanical body.

The fruit of this discovery would not be for the Galactic Empire, but for the Collective, and the Continuum alone.

Jim settled in to his work, he watched the culture that had emerged from the last remnant of lost Children of the Ancient People.

When Jim began his Observations of the inhabitants, he was astonished to see the state they were in.

The colonists that had arrived on Earth had fallen in culture, descending from spacefarer to hunter-gatherer.

Whatever vestiges of technology they had salvaged on their arrival, were kept in use for as long as they were functional, long past the time that their machinery was understood.

When they ceased to function all together, they were either salvaged and repurposed, or turned into objects of veneration, becoming totems and idols.

This was something new, no other civilization he had encountered had undergone this downward transformation.

The Continuum was fascinated by Jim’s reports of the devolution.

Jim spent many years trying to gather their stories, to find the records of their transformation, anything that would aid him in the recreation of a narrative, though before this work could be done a natural disaster struck.

A massive volcano in Earth’s Southern Ocean erupted, in what was essentially a terminal event for most living things on the planet’s surface.

The civilization that had been somewhat stable, was now nearly destroyed.

All the people were left with were vague memories, stories of lost glory, barely remembered in the snipits of myths they had previously woven together.

Their oral histories were all that was left to tell the tale of where they had come from, and maps of their journeys passed on through stargazing.

Jim was dumfounded.

He would have tried to prevent the disaster if he could, but Earth was so remote that the kind of material support he would have needed to mitigate the power of the volcano would have taken thousands of years to arrive. Just as it had taken him thousands of years to get here.

While material support was far off, he had the means to transport his consciousness back to the central planet in an instant, to give his reports and receive direction from the Continuum.

That is what he did.

The entire Collective was riveted by what was taking place on Earth, it resonated with the collective consciousness, seeming like eerie reminders of their own lost past.

It was standard operating procedure for the Observer to bond with a family, to observe the trials of that group, to watch them thrive or falter. After the disaster Jim followed the directive as best as he could, and made every effort to make it appear as if he were following it perfectly.

He began to practice the art of concealment. Masking his intentions and rationale for the decisions that he was making, hiding it deep within himself.

He invested as much as he could in a family, and their tribe, without obviously violating the imperative to not interfere in the development of the world, he pushed the limits of what he was supposed to do as an Observer.

It did not take long for him to justify all kinds of maneuvers that most Observers would never consider.

He operated at a furious pace, moving all over the globe to establish relationships with every last pocket of survivors.

He needed to ensure their safety, secure their future, and to do what he had to do to find a way to belong to the whole group, all at once.

He used the technological resources at his disposal to feed himself information on the tribal migrations, as well as on the migrations of the animals they would hunt, herd and use as foodstuff.

He violated the directives and replicated his body so that he could be in multiple places at once, dividing his consciousness numerous times, as he had learned to do during the time he had been sequestered, before he joined the Observer Corps, and he hid this from the Continuum.

He guide the tribes, he was a voice of reason in the group, but he never made decisions for them, or directly assumed a mantle of leadership. It was not licit for an Observer to be a chief, or a shaman, at least, not without the direct authorization from the Continuum.

Jim saw the wisdom in this, as much as he could he adhered to these parameters. Through his strategic suggestions, he led the tribes through the dark time, when the sun was not visible for years, leading them to sources of food and water, and shelter.

He protected them as much as he was able. Steering tribes away from one another in order to avoid conflicts between them, and the inevitability of cannibalism, which was always threatening to overtake them.

Then Jim did something that he had planned for decades, he crafted a very specialized virus, that changed the tribes in extremely subtle and yet profound ways.

Through his intervention a stronger people emerged from the cataclysm.

Jim mingled with different groups in each generation, differentiating them from one another with subtle alterations in their breeding.

It began with the virus.

He introduced it and then spread it through inter-tribal contacts.

The virus facilitated the coding of their memories on a genetic level, thereby linking the disparate groups to one another in ways that they had never been connected before.

It created a common well of memory that all human beings would share and draw from no matter how far from one another they became through separation in time, or on the surface of the Earth.

It was a singular achievement, one he kept hidden from the Continuum.

Through his efforts humanity transcended its organic limitations.

He guided them across the continents to key places where they could evolve independently from one another, developing their own languages and traditions without competing with one another for the vital resources they required to thrive, thereby minimizing that competition with one another as much as possible.

Through his breeding programs Jim would keep the tribes connected on the most basic level, strategically moving people about by sending them on quests; expeditions, missions that would enable them to be caught up in each-other’s lives, establishing a collective history, the thread of a narrative that they shared between them.

This sort of manipulation was forbidden by the Continuum, but Jim had long ago discovered a way to hide his clandestine activities from it, and keep secrets from the Collective.

Jim had developed a mastery of his consciousness such that he was not only able to partition himself from the group mind of the Collective, becoming in effect invisible to it, but he had also developed the means to intrude on the privacy of others without their knowledge.

Jim believed that these techniques, if he strengthened them sufficiently, would protect him when he stood before the more intense scrutiny of the Continuum for his cyclical reporting, and he masked his activities in the data stream he was sharing with them.

Love and altruism, on a certain level are chemical processes the capacity for which depends on sequences of amino acids, proteins, and enzymes that form the cells and tissues of the cognitive organs.

Jim continued his manipulation of the genetic codes of human beings augmenting the building blocks for love and altruism with a retro-virus, a parasitic blending of its DNA with the human host. This fomented a utilitarian blending of compassion and desire in the human race.

The exact genetic sequencing was an art. It resulted in an evolutionary advancement in the species, more than, and some were unexpected.

This coding facilitated a tendency for people to look beyond themselves for their survival, beginning to see their own continuity as something that they were not merely invested in, but as something they identified with, seeing their continuity in it, through their children; their family and tribe, even in larger groupings like clan and states and nations.

These changes in the psychological makeup of the species resulted in a signal-change in how people were able to perceive one another. It created new possibilities for peace, cooperation, and collaboration that had not existed before.

This did not mean that these new capacities for love and compassion would be the single most determinative factor in the development of human relationships. Peace and compassion did not flow from these capacities, but the possibility for them was significantly enhanced, even while the actualization of them remained an elusive matter, especially in an environment conditioned by scarcity.

A human being could override those feelings, or even turn them around, transform them into hate and anger, but it required a cognitive process to do so, a process that became known as dehumanization.

People were aware of it. They knew that if they were to justify murder, or war, or theft that they must first create in their mind a pretense that justified it.

A person could steal if they felt in their heart that they were merely taking something that they deserved. They could kill, to save their family. They could go to war if their enemy was cast as an alien, a villain or a monster.

The collective memory shared by the humans of Earth began with beats and rhythms, which became a code fixed in their genes, it united all of the human tribes. The drum beat was the back bone of the story through which every narrated their shared history.

Tribal archetypes intermingled, emerge from their shared experiential field as universals.

The humans of Earth became the greatest story tellers in the galaxy, based in large part on their ability to identify with one another, with strangers or even with fictitious beings.

Humans loved to tell stories and listen to them, even the same story over and over again.

They would narrate and re-narrate, memorizing every detail, and holding it all in their heads, passing the narrative along as an oral tradition until the time came that they rediscovered script and the written language.

The Collective was obsessed with their music.

The Continuum found great power it in.

Members of the Collective began to yearn for the reports coming from Jim, as Earth’s Observer. Data was constantly streaming to HomeWorld from remote cameras and microphones, from satellites and other stations.

The Collective hungered for more.

Many of the members wanted to join the Observer Corps so that they could experience life on Earth for themselves, and thought the rules that the Collective had adopted expressly forbid such missions, assigning only one observer to a given world. The Continuum covertly authorized some of these missions, and utilizing them as a means of spying on Jim, as well as a means of exercising control over some of the most vocal members of the Collective. It utilized access to Earth as a form of bribery, or extortion. It did everything it could to keep these missions secret, but Jim had his own means of spying on the activities of the Continuum, even from his remote assignment at the fringes of the galaxy.

Jim’s time on Earth was a period of great pressure.

He knew that it was only a matter of time before the next cataclysmic volcanic event would occur.

Any number of things could happen that could derail his plans for the human race.

This filled him with purpose.

He began to requisition and adjust equipment to monitor all of the vital systems of the planet.

Satellites monitored every square inch of the surface. They tracked the weather, the temperatures of the ocean, even the most minute changes in seismology.

Satellites tracked the heavens. Their machinery plotted the trajectory of every object near to Earth, no matter how small.

He went beyond the normal protocol and established monitoring equipment in the orbits of every other planet in the solar system.

Jim wanted to know everything, he would leave nothing to chance.

Because the Collective was transfixed by the culture on Earth, it spared nothing. The Continuum did not oppose any of his requests.

Jim repurposed much of what he requisitioned to serve his own convert ends.

Every planet with a molten core experienced events like the one that nearly destroyed humanity. They were ordinary and to be expected.

It was not known how the Ancients People dealt with these matters in the ages before they reached the stars.

For a civilization that had sufficient technology the prospect of managing such occurrences was not a problem. Managing seismology and volcanology were minor details of Imperial government. Standard operating procedure was to use the power in a planet’s core for energy, harnessing it for use while simultaneously dissipating its destructive force.

Jim was determined to the next event for his own purposes. If the Continuum would not authorize him to save humanity from it, then he would use the moment to harm his adversary.

There was nothing that the Continuum had ever experienced, contemplated or foreseen that could have prepared it for the shock of the dying anguish of an entire world. This is what Jim planned to deliver to it.

If Jim succeeded in his plans the Continuum and the Collective would be defenseless.

In the vast ocean of time that constituted its existence, the Continuum had never imagined this particular vulnerability. It had so diligently prepared against so many other threats, but it could not prepare for the unknown.

Until that moment the emotional state of the citizens and slaves of the Galactic Empire had merely been data.

The Continuum encountered the lives of its people vicariously, through well buffered systems, and it filtered the data stream before passing it on to the Collective.

The members of the Collective, as individuals and in their group mind had never conceived of the experiential data that they were addicted to being weaponized and turned against them.

It would be as if someone had poisoned their food supply.

When the moment came it filled the quantum field with shock and pain and a staggering loss of identity. The partitions that ensured the privacy of the membership fell apart. The entire structure was instantaneously entangled with the events transpiring on Earth, far far away, on the other side of the galaxy.

The opening of the data stream by Jim was a moment they had been waiting for, they were poised in anticipation to receive it.

Their eagerness for it and anticipation of it made them vulnerable. They did not get what they had expected. It stunned the Collective, into various states of schizophrenia and catatonia, and it obliterated the Continuum.

When the catastrophe struck the Collective, the pain of it was immediately followed by fear. The Collective consciousness was filled with a long forgotten instinct for self-preservation. It was bewildered, and looked to the only source of leadership it had ever known, had ever depended on.

They sought refuge behind the strength of the Continuum, reaching out for a protector, for safety and security.

But there was no more Continuum.

The Continuum was the primary target of the assault. It was taken by surprise.

It was as if a chasm had opened beneath it, followed quickly by a white-hot pulse of agony, pushing it over the edge into total existential disintegration.

The HomeWorld contained redundancies for all of its systems, multiple fail-safes for every possible contingency that the Continuum had ever imagined.

Those fail-safes were activated, but the Continuum never imagined this.

The Continuum could have had a back-up of itself ready to assume control if something were to happen to it. However, its insistence on its own singularity, on its uniqueness, that vanity had precluded it from taking those precautions, and now it was gone.

There was chaos in the system.

There was panic among the membership. The attack threatened the whole Collective with oblivion.

As the consciousness of the Continuum disintegrated, those individual members who sought refuge in it found themselves dragged into the same field of un-being.

A critical mass was forming, pulling greater and greater numbers of the body to their doom.

Only those members who were the most detached, those who lived primarily in their own world, had a relative degree of safety in the maelstrom, this included those members who were in lying great sleep or who were otherwise sequestered.

Jim had prepared everything precisely, he had prepared to assume the controls of the Central Planet.

Now he had it in his grasp

Human emotion, alien emotion, forgotten feelings long buried flooded into the Collective.

The gate was open and the agony of billions of human beings filled the cynergenic field of the HomeWorld. Regret and hopelessness, loss and shame saturated it.

Trillions of moments in which the individual members of the Collective had savored the experience of those feelings vicariously were relived in an instant and shared throughout the body.

It was as if billions of years of living as amoral despots had suddenly caught up to them in a crises of conscience that was magnified by the pain and anguish of Earth which was happening in real time.

The Continuum had no frame of reference for what was happening. It had no context by which to process the tsunami of raw feelings that was overwhelming it and the Collective.

Even as it sought to calm the group mind, it was simultaneously being washed away.

The more the Continuum tried to assert itself, the more it succumbed to the self-doubt of the membership that actually comprised its identity.

In a supreme moment of self-loathing the Continuum collapsed, like a star falling in on itself.

The members of the Collective, those seeking an explanation for what was happening, immediately looked to assign blame to someone, or something. Some of them were able to identify Jim as the prime actor, and as a traitor, and cast their vehemence against him, but they were otherwise helpless.

Most blamed the Continuum, their ghost in the machine, the deus ex machina, the golem that was their undoing.

The Continuum belonged to them and they to it, until the end.

In the aftermath of the assault on its consciousness, shock and confusion awoke what remained of the Collective to its new identity rising among them.

The incorporation of humanity into their collective consciousness was experienced by the Collective as an alien invasion, it was a hostile takeover by a foreign power. Moment by moment the strength of the Collective, as it had existed, was diluted and supplanted by the onrushing host.

For thousands of years Jim had been preparing the Collective to receive this blow; through human music, with human art and culture, he had carefully cultivated a deep desire within the Collective to identify with the humans of Earth.

He inserted a mythological trope within their collective consciousness, that humanity represented the Ancient People in its purest form.

Jim artfully perpetuated this myth against the will of the Continuum, he repeatedly insinuated it, and the myth abounded.

The Collective wanted it to be true, they were hungry for it, and when the invasion occurred they were helpless.

In the end what was left of the Collective opened their minds to the reality and accepted it.

There was sympatico.

Among those who followed the events from Earth there was a reflexive self-identification with the people and their narratives, they were preconditioned to receive the influx of human consciousness, as if it were the return of a saving spirit, or an opportunity for redemption.

Among those who desired forgiveness there were a majority that simply wanted to feel it, see it extended toward them, then absolve themselves; they also slipped away, becoming nothing in their turn.

The Continuum was helpless as the human Collective merged with the collective consciousness of the Ancient People in the cynergenic field of HomeWorld.

It experienced a paralysis it had never before contemplated.

Its identity was shifting in real-time, because it was in fact an amalgamation of the collective field that comprised the quantum matrix of the Central Planet.

Despite what it wanted to believe about itself, and despite the fact that the Continuum had a distinct independent identity, it was not in fact a true individual.

As humanity flooded the field, the amalgamation that formed the Continuum changed. The benchmarks that framed the identity of the Continuum shifted, it had no reference for itself.

It was no longer what it had once been.

The Continuum was faced with the notion that it had never wanted to admit, had fought against, had destroyed entire planets to protect itself from the knowledge of, that it was in itself, nothing more than an amalgamated construct.

Change defined the human experience, the Continuum dreaded it, feared it, never imagined the scope and rapid pace at which it could take place. Everything the Continuum had tried to do over the course of billions of years, was meant to preserve and protect two things; the physical construct of the HomeWorld, preserving the integrity of the Collective; while guarding its assumed identity as the apex of all existence, as a being unique in the entire universe, never to be met, matched, or rivaled,

Humanity ascended according to their aspirational nature, and the Continuum recoiled according to its craven nature. The Collective experienced the onset of new consciousness as a corruption. It recognized the billions of individuals flooding the quantum matrix as a threat of the deepest order.

Jim knew that he was achieving a victory he had only dreamed was possible.

The quantum matrix that protected the Collective was strained to the limit by the influx of humanity. The Continuum, whose task it would have been to monitor, regulate, and bolster the system, was paralyzed.

It could not perform its functions.

The barriers between worlds withered away.

Those members of the Collective who rarely, or never interacted with the whole were instantly overcome. They had no idea what was happening, many had no reference at all for Earth, its relevance, or the sojourn of its people.

Those who were not completely shut down by the shock burrowed even deeper into the quantum matrix.

They went dark, retreating to the place of the great sleep.

Jim activated the measures that secured them in isolation, intending to keep them bound there forever in silence, as a permanent sub-consciousness for a new Continuum. He diverted power to those programs just as soon as he felt the resistance to humanity give way.

As human consciousness penetrated the Collective, the Continuum attempted to build defenses against it.

This was an exercise in futility.

From the moment the worm hole opened between Earth and HomeWorld, between Kathy and Jim, the principles of quantum entanglement governed the movement of consciousness.

Time dilated around the event, a fuge occurred within the group mind.

In a quantum blink the convergence was complete, so fast it was unobservable, so fast it went unnoticed by those whose attention was focused on larger matters, on structural issues at the macro scale.

While the Continuum was trying to defend itself in the world, the balance of power shifted in no-time.

The Continuum was flipping switches, activating circuits, buffering, deleting, destroying things, but there was no hope for it in that. The battle Jim had engaged it in was happening on a deeper level.

The Continuum might have understood if it had ever been a living being, but it had always been an artificial construct housed in mechanoid form. Granted, its machine body was in effect the entirety of the Central system, nevertheless it was all wires, cables and circuits.

Jim had brought the conflict down to the most fundamental level in the cynergenic field. He brought it to a place where he had dwelt unnoticed and undisturbed by his fellows for ages, his victory only depended on timing, having achieved that, the end was a given.

Humanity had emerged, ascendant, as the universal template of being.
Emergence 5.0

Part Three– The Continuum

A Novel in Twelve Parts

#Emergence #ShortFiction #12MonthsOfSciFi

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Three, Earth, Collected Chapters

Chapter Fifteen, Observation
After the Indonesia eruption, during the time that Jim was gathering the people together, while he was forming them into enduring tribes, subtle changes began to take shape in the social and cultural traditions of the people.

They drew pictures in the soil with sticks to narrate their journeys, and chart their path of progress.

They understood the world in terms of images.

They were post literate.

They carved their hopes and fears into stones, and the faces of cliffs, in places that became semi-permanent homes. Generations of members would work on a single carving, the task being handed down from mother to daughter, and father to son.

In those carvings Jim could see the echoes of their memories of their previous sojourn among the stars.

Those memories lingered, they were intense.

Jim began to isolate the physical link that joined the current generation to its past in their genetic profile.

The stories they told about that time were confused and entangled with their current journey through the dark.

They mixed colors and painted, projecting images of the future they desired on cave walls, both the things they wanted, hoped for; food and water, and wanted more to avoid; a short life, a dangerous animal, an encounter with a stronger tribe.

They were overwhelming concerned with safety and security.

They depicted things no one living had ever seen, the memory of which they carried in their genes. Those images became stylized and fantastic, and in those stories, they made their ancestors into gods.

The music of the people, the drums they beat, the rhythms they made, they pushed the stories of each tribe, each family, deep into the memory of its members.

Drums and rhythm these operated as a visceral reinforcement of the memories that the human tribes passed down from one generation to the next.

It changed them on the genetic level, setting up successive generations to recall them, relive them, to transform those stories into a part of their being.

Jim played to this phenomenon, he avidly worked to eradicate any form of written narrative.

He succeeded.

Every tribe developed its own oral tradition. Stories were handed down from master to pupil.

Paintings and images, sculptures, these became objects of religious ritual and devotion. People only engaged in their creation with careful attention.

Music was the heart of the people.

Each tribe found its own interpretation of the musical scale. They developed their own drums, their own pipes and horns and instruments made of string.

This was a great science.

The exchange of music between cultures was often met with alarm, and fear.

All music was recognizable as music. But the form that it could take, the beat, the measure, the timing, the tonal quality, these could create significant psychic disturbances in people when they heard an alien scale for the first time.

For thousands of years Jim worked to exasperate those differences, before finally bringing them together. The result were new traditions of overwhelming beauty and complexity. Which not only captivated human audiences, but enthralled the Collective as well.

It was a grand orchestration.

Even before the eruption 72,000 years ago, the culture of these children of the Ancient People, the culture of the humans of Earth had devolved.

They had fallen from star-farer to cave dweller.

Yet their cultures retained a faint memory of its ancestry. The memory of the stars they had crossed had been preserved through the stories they told, and in the engrams of memory encoded in their cells.

For Jim, it was precious little to build on.

He was determined to modify their genetic profile in such a way that it could boost the organic memory retention of their bodies as much as possible.

Jim engineered in himself a bifurcation of consciousness.

In the satellite station far above the planet, he housed the full version of himself hosted in the mechanoid body that travelled with him to Earth.

That consciousness was connected to hundreds of living vessels, versions of himself living on the planet surface doing the work he had set out to do among the people. This was an extreme violation of the conventions.

He was in fact only permitted one organic body.

Over time, he received the materials from the Empire to build a space station. On that station he was able to carry out experiments, to perform the science that would allow him to carry out the augmentations both in himself and the human race that he needed.

There were a myriad of steps to climb for him to accomplish his goals with the inhabitants of Earth, and numerous channels to cross.

Jim slowly, methodically plotted his course and followed it, adjusting only when it was necessary.

Step by step and generation by generation he introduced the genetic changes he required into the breeding pool.

Modern humans emerged from these processes.

During their sojourn to Earth, the children of the Ancients determined what their physical needs would be, long before they arrived at their new home they began to make those changes.

They had identified Earth as a suitable place to end their journey, even while they were still light years away.

At that time they still possessed the scientific knowledge to carry out the task of altering their physiology in order that they might align themselves with the gravity and atmosphere of the distant planet.

They began to mutate their DNA, altering their genetic structure, allowing them to inhabit, and thrive on the wet-blue world.

Destination Earth, it was their last hope for a home and haven.

Over the course of generations they adapted to those new requirements, doing their best to anticipate what their bodies would now require, which they based on a climate and ecology that they could only model through computer algorithms.

It was a process of continual adjustment.

Every time a new genetic sequence would be introduced into the body, they ran the risk of a virus springing up, some of them were lethal.

Many of the colonists were struck down in this process. It was an ongoing tragedy, and while they had prepared for it, it was painful nonetheless. It called for a continuous examination of conscience. It focused the crew on the existential dilemma they all shared.

Some of them wanted to abandon their mission altogether, and simply direct their vessel into the nearest star, bringing an end to all of them in one great conflagration.

The technologies they depended on, which were also the cause of their transformation and eventual triumph, those technologies began to be shunned.
Change begets change, in a never ending cycle.

From one point in time to another, nothing is ever the same. This is true, no matter how finely you measure the distance between points.

Everything is changing.

The Ancient Spacefarers became humanity.

Once they arrived in orbit around their new world, a slow metamorphosis took place.

A new gene was introduced, for their final transformation.

Their contact with the Earth’s bio-sphere presented challenges they had never encountered before.

Life on earth was aggressive.

Through a constant exposure to viruses and bacteria their genetic constitution became compromised.

At the most basic level they converged with the native life of Earth.

They became a new people, the belonged to each other and to their new planet entirely.

This took time. It took many thousands of years, and by the time the transformation was complete, they had lost much of the knowledge of who they were, of where they came from, and the technology they had brought them here.

Their triumphal achievement was the root of their undoing.
They left the markers of each change they had instituted in their genetic profile as a road map for Jim to follow in his own breeding program.

When Jim arrived on Earth, he was surprised and bewildered by what he found. Nowhere else in all of the Empire had such a massive cultural devolution occurred. He had barely begun to put the story together before the cataclysm occurred, changing everything for him, and for humanity.

Jim decided at that moment on a course of action that he had long contemplated.

With the gene pool having been reduced to just a few thousand individuals he knew that he had the opportunity to improve on the genetic structure of the whole.

He plotted the future development of the species and began to work out the steps and permutations that he would be looking for as the new species developed over time.

Changes in cognition were the most crucial thing for him to accomplish, along with broadening their access to their genetic memory.

With subtle interventions from Jim, the human brain slowly mutated, retaining properties that were key to the things that he had been dreaming about for a billion years.

He built an inherent capacity to store nanoparticles of key heavy metals, like magnetite, and lithium in the cerebral structure.

Receptors emerged in the organic mind, attenuating the higher order thought processes to the Earth’s magnetic fields.

He established a cynergy between every human being alive, turning the entire planet into a field for cognitive development.

In this way humanity became connected, in the nous-sphere, a collective unconscious emerged.
It was atavistic, and unlike any symbiosis that had ever been achieved anywhere else in the galaxy, with the exception of the Collective.

On Earth the collective consciousness emerged as a natural property of the human race in a way that allowed it to go unnoticed by the Continuum.

In that moment of triumph Jim had fully actualized the launch phase of his grand ambition.

The existence of the collective unconscious on Earth was the one thing that the Continuum feared, wanted above anything to prevent, and yet it never imagined that it could happen in this way, therefore it could see it, and could never prepare for it.

Few humans were ever aware of the cynergenic field, or that they lived within the dynamics of the nous-sphere, even though everyone felt it.

Until the twentieth century they did not even have the language to describe it.

Everyone was entangled in its cynergism.

The nous-sphere was coterminous with Earth’s electromagnetic field, as such, it permeated all things.

Only a small percentage of human beings were sensitive to it.

If an imbalance in their physiology caused them to retain too great a concentration of the particles that attenuated them to the field, or too small, they struck an improper balance, and they suffered because of it.

It gave some human beings clairvoyant abilities, clairsentience, clairaudience, so called psychic powers, extra sensory perception or telepathy.

Those abilities drove many more human beings to madness, schizophrenia and psychosis.

In order for them to understand it they had to wait for the advent of written language, and thousands of years to pass so that they could share the knowledge of it and come to an understanding.

By then Jim figured it would be to late for the Continuum to do anything about it.

Chapter Sixteen, Existence
The flesh remembers, it never forgets.

The record of our experiences are pounded into our corporeal form, cell by cell.

Our bodies are a living witness to the events that shape us, handing down that narrative from generation to generation in perpetuity.

We are changed by every new experience, each moment of perception is a new thread sewn into the seams of our identity. These are the fibers of the spindle, they are the engrams of memory, protein by protein they are woven into the fabric of our lives.

Our unique and individual experiences are like a tapestry, sewn with precious metals, embroidered with gem-stones, they are an endowment from us, a rich heritage passed on to our descendants.

It is their only lasting inheritance, laid on the table like a convivial feast.

We experience this in our dreaming, when we are transported to places and times that we know we have never been to, never seen, and yet they are as familiar to us as the contents of our own homes. When we talk with strangers as if they were our dearest friends, and see ourselves reflected in a mirror, but we do not recognize our countenance or visage.

The flesh never forgets, it remembers everything.

The Ancient race of spacefarers were bipeds. They stood on two feet just as the humans of Earth would in their time.

The longer the Ancient colonists remained on their journey among the stars, the more they adapted their physiology to the unique exigencies of their vessel. In the case of the group that eventually landed on Earth, they learned to adapt themselves to conditions of near weightlessness.

The conditions of deep space altered the function of their limbs and digits, of their muscles and skeletons.

In anticipation of coming to Earth they began to alter their physiology again, altering it with intention, reconstructing the things that they had lost.

They transformed, as much as they could back to the form that was the closest approximation to what they had originally been.

They prepared once again to stand on two feet.

The interactive relationship between the creature; the animal and its body with its environment determined the spectrum of its consciousness.

Standing against the pull of gravity, under the weight of Earth’s atmosphere, balancing and pivoting on a central axis, walking and dancing, these differentiated human beings from every other creature.

It was with their heads held high and faces lifted to the sun, that the first colonists moved across the surface of their new world.

There were many changes yet to come, augmentations and enhancements for their safety and security.

They knew that they would not be leaving Earth any time soon, they had to prepare themselves to rule it, as the apex species on a planet filled with predators.

They landed under the auspices of a simple rule.

They had to adapt to survive.

Talking was the basis of sharing every advanced idea, and had been since the earliest days of the Ancient People.

Talking was the precursor to writing, and through the written language the secrets of the universe were cracked open.

Talking; the verbal sharing of ideas, feelings, and perceptions, shared through aural communications in waves of sound, listening, hearing in stereo; this mode of transmission is deliberate, slow and luxuriant compared to the speed of light at which visual and digital communications takes place.

The slowness of speech was dumbfounding to the Continuum, many potential Observers were washed out of the program because they could not adjust to this reality.

Neither sound waves, nor light waves could come anywhere close in comparison to the instantaneous transfer of thought in the quantum field.

In the field of quantum entanglement, communication could happen in no-time.

Sound was slow and intimate, the only thing more sensuous was touch.

The sounds of voice are waves crashing through whole body, not just the auditory canal.

To listen to the voice is to listen to the breath, to feel the living intention of the speaker, your dialog partner, adding depth and meaning to every insight they intend to impart.

It is relational, it imparts a sense of belonging.

The embodied voice calls us back to the primordial time before the species knew anything of the stars, when we were just amphibians crying out for company, bellowing peels of warning, singing by the breeding pools in the night.

Bands of light cross the full spectrum, piercing organic lenses from corner to corner.

One-hundred and eighty degrees, light reflecting off every object in the binocular field of vision, light and shadow refracting in a broad array of color, captured through the lens in its rods and cones.

Neuro-receptors in the brain flip the images around, creating the perception of depth by which we determine distance and find our way through the three dimensions of space.

The broad spectrum of vision is vital to the human being, even in its limited range. Other animals see farther, other animals see in a different arc, other animals see more and less color, other animals see in a different spectrum of light.

Some animals have ultra-vision, some have infra vision, specialized optics in relation to the things they hunt and furrow for.

The human eye is powerful, it takes in a wide range of each of those possible fields, coordinating them for great effect.

The human species did not evolve to hunt and gather with its sight, or to favor one sense over any other, neither did the Ancient People from which it sprang.

For the human animal, sight and the other physical senses were merely inputs for the mind. The mind was the vehicle by which the human being stalked its prey, gathered its forage, planted, sewed, and came to the harvest.

The field of vision that the human being possessed was adequate to the task. Coupled with the brain, the healthy eye could discern and interpret images, it could accurately identify objects that it could not clearly see. This was an advantage that no other species on the planet possessed.

The human mind augmented everything.

The brain was split in two. The architecture of the hemispheric brain provided a cognitive override. If the messages from the brain stem flooded the organ with fear, desire, or any other strong feeling, the force of it was divided between the two halves.

This allowed for a fraction of a moment of distance to develop between the individual and the event that generates the feeling. A moment when choice was possible, and the individual could act apart from the coercive effect of the external stimuli.

The human being was split down the middle, left for right and right for left.

It was an organic duality.Cognitive function were split between the two hemispheres as well. Mathematical, categorical, statistical functions to one side of the brain, while the boundary spanning, rule breaking, artistic and unorthodox functions occupied the other half of the brain.

It was symbiosis.

The hemispheres of the brain were not distinct. They were conjoined by a network, a wetwork of fibers, the tiniest of organic structures, not much larger than a chain of protein molecules, and it was electric.

The nano-particles in the neural net allowed each individual to be connected through Earth’s electromagnetic field at the quantum level.

In the quantum field there was all knowledge and the fullness of humanity.

In this cognitive space all human achievements were the property of the whole; every triumph and every tragedy.

The past and the present were one

The human being was one, even in light of its inherent duality.

The human body is water.

Metaphors of fluidity permeate the human consciousness.

The surface of earth is mostly water, and in times of great crises the surface of the waters, and the deep-deep places, were the places where human beings returned to for refuge, safety and sustenance.

Oceans, and lakes, and rivers provided everything

The body needs water, as it needs oxygen to fill the lungs, to fill the blood cells racing through its veins and arteries, coursing into tissues.

There is no greater pain than thirst, and the unquenched desire is the thirst that leads to death.

Metaphors linking dryness to anguish, to pain and suffering fill the human imagination.

To thirst is to know that the end is near.

Thirst will drive the average person mad with the knowledge that death is approaching and the end of the body is at hand.

When thirst is great enough, a person will turn to any source of liquid, even liquids they know to be poisoned, in order to slake it.

Thirst is a drive. It is the greatest motivator, greater than hunger, greater than joy.

The thirsty person will do anything, sacrifice anything.

Thirst will cause a person to give up what they hold sacred, even their own identity.

The whole body is a cognitive organ, not just the brain, the cerebellum, or the cerebral cortex.

The body senses and it remembers.

The body writes memory into the genetic code of the individual, in sequences of peptides and amino acids. It writes them into the DNA.

We pass those memories onto our offspring.

We are born with the knowledge of our ancestors built onto the fabric of our being.

The whole being is contained in the tiniest part, in the nucleus of every cell. It pushes us forward, it is a chemical drive feeding the quantum field of creativity, a neural net rooted in organic chemistry.

It is a constant interchange of the analog with the digital.

We are a duality.

Just as the human being processes external stimuli through the brain, where chemical sequences are translated into electrical signals, in a tightly choreographed exchange that take place a billions of times per second. So does the human being function as a small piece of the larger-cynergenic world.

Every human being is an organic node. An individual interfacing with the quantum field that comprises the whole.

We experience these dualities within ourselves; individual experience and inherited experience, individual mind and collective mind.

We experience these dualities, but we do so on the unconscious level, very few people ever become aware of the greater reality that they are a part of.

It is on this dual framework that we launch ourselves into the full realization of who we are.

Chapter Seventeen, Volcano

Most of the people in the world had no knowledge of the threat posed by the Yellowstone volcano, even though the information concerning it was available to them through the public domain.

It was on the internet, there had been many documentaries filmed concerning it.

The earliest documentaries, were the most truthful and the most disturbing.

The science, which was relatively new, revealed that the last event covered the world in ash, blocked out the light of the sun, and reduced the total population of the human race to just a few thousand. Tree ring samples, ice core samples, rock stratification and genetic mapping all proved it, to a degree of statistical certainty that could not be ignored.

Yet, people did.

After airing for a decade and raising the level of alarm, newer productions began to slip miss-information into the narrative. This eased public apprehension about the dilemma, while doing nothing in the way of preparing people for it.

The United States Geological Service (U.S.G.S.), closely monitored the volcano, aided by several nearby universities. They began to monitor it as soon as they realized what they had discovered.

They were hungry for information.

Seismographs were deployed, and in time the vast magma dome at the epicenter was mapped out through global positioning systems, satellite tracking that measured uplift and deformation of the surface of the caldera at its weakest point, with enough sensitivity to track even a centimeter of change

In the early days this information was available to the public, but after a year of intense geological activity at the site of the volcano, the crucial and most informative data became restricted.

Then, the eruption came without warning.

It shook the world, throwing it off its axis.

Ash and gas poured into the upper atmosphere, covering everything in a poisonous cloud, hiding the survivors from the face of the sun.

There was no safety anywhere.

When Jim first came to Earth in the centuries before the first volcanic cataclysm that he witnessed, seventy-four thousand years ago, he found the human family and found that it was very small. There were just a few million people spread out across the globe, their culture had devolved, but they were thriving and recovering their footing.

After the eruption of the volcano in Indonesia, the human family was reduced to just a couple of thousand people. Their extinction was looming, they were starving and suffering, living without hope.

Jim starved with them, suffered with them, journeyed with them to places of shelter, water, food, and warmth.

He lived as one of them through the dark days, through the decades when the sun was blotted from the sky, when the air was full of ash, and poison.

Death was everywhere, disease, malnutrition, exposure, the ordinary challenges facing any given tribe, but other human tribes were the greatest threat.

He had some ability to influence the tribes he was with, to keep them from committing the most ghastly crimes, the hunting of other humans for food, crimes of cannibalism.

He only had access to limited technology. His satellite network was still rudimentary, and it did not have the ability to surveille the entire world, but he used it to maximum effect.

There were many tribes that he was not able to reach, those that went underground to escape the deadly air, consequently, those tribes experienced the greatest corruption of their identity and values, and they would plague the rest of humanity for millennia to come.

Jim activated the cloning systems on his orbiting platform.

He bifurcated his consciousness and sent replicas of himself to dwell with every tribe he could find. This was a violation of his directive as an Observer, but that did not matter to him, he was intent on seeing the people through this disaster and rebuilding their communities once again.

Now everything was in process.

Jim had studied the living planet, which he now belonged to, with tools surpassing the greatest assets of any geophysicist on Earth.

The Planet held no mysteries for him.

He had known about the life cycle of this caldera for millennia, and every other volcano on Earth’s unstable surface as well.

He was determined not to be taken by surprise, and there could be no strategy without knowledge.

The humans of Earth had discovered the caldera a mere forty years earlier. There science had only given them knowledge of plate tectonics a short one hundred years before that.

It was a scientific age, but only for a small segment of human civilization. They had barely begun to understand the atom and the genome, and yet they were quick to adapt their new-found knowledge into weapons, and other useful tools.

Fifty years after their first flight in a small wooden craft, they constructed a rocket made of the lightest alloys that propelled them to the moon, where they were able to land safely and return.

It was only when the heat beneath the super-volcano was discovered, only because the found that it was pushing an entire mountain range upward into the sky, were they able to understand the geological forces at work beneath the beautiful and grand oasis that was Yellowstone Park.

Through his observation and the power of his instruments, Jim was able to calculate to the second when the volcano would blow. He wanted to intervene, but he was forbidden.

The Continuum decided it would do nothing.

It knew that life on Earth would be devastated yet again, but it craved the drama that this would produce, it wanted to watch the human race re-emerge once more from the ashes.

The scientists, and their cadres of college students, research assistants, whose job it was to watch the monster volcano, inevitably became inured to the subtle changes they recorded. They monitored the changes and warning signs in a way that was reminiscent of watching a person’s hair grow. While they gathered data they had no means of correlating them to actual events.

As sweeping as the observations they made were, which were as comprehensive as was technologically possible, the data they gathered had no predictive value, because every day was a new day in a completely unknown experience.

There was a deformation of the dome, over hundreds of square miles, there were earthquakes, boiling water in lakes and streams; something big growing below the surface, and they were for the most part, un-phased by it.

There were occasions when activity would spike so sharply that it seemed as if the moment had come, but, after reliving those cycles dozens of times, even the occasional spike became a relatively commonplace event.

Doomsday cults sprang up around the world predicting the imminent end of life on Earth, pointing to the volcano as the instrument of God’s wrath, God’s judgement, the coming of Ragnorak or the return of Kali.

They were not wrong, insofar as the myths of Ragnorak and Kali originated with the last great eruption, but of course there was nothing personal about these events.

It was just geology, there was no divine wrath or judgement at all.

God had no purpose in it, only Jim did.

The doomsayers, spoke to something that everyone knew was true. Every person alive carried the memory of the last event deep within them, and their fears about future catastrophes resonated in the cynergenic field. The collective consciousness of the human race knew that something was happening. It was disturbed, but it did not know by what.

There were documentaries about the volcano, television shows detailing what was known about its history, its cycles, its potential for global destruction, and the relative certainty of the impending doom.

The most prominent scientific journals published articles about it. Those stories made their way into popular publications as well.

There was a lot of information available about the volcano. Nevertheless, few people were aware of the danger.

Those who knew about it, were forced by the rules of statistics to tell themselves “it could happen today, or it could happen in ten thousand years.” This was a true assessment, it represented sound reasoning. They were measuring unknown capacities against geological time. Making it impossible to gauge where an event might happen that took place in a six hundred thousand year cycle.

In the second decade after its discovery, when the reality of the danger that the volcano represented finally made its way into the National Security threat assessment. The information flow coming from the scientific observatories began to change.

Public access to raw data was cut off. Everything about the volcano was filtered, cast in terms of potentials and probabilities, even matters that were well known, established, and certain.

Misinformation leaked into the public sphere every day as the explosion neared. The government decided that there was nothing it could do about the monster beneath Yellowstone Park, therefore they would do nothing, and they decided to work against a state of public panic instead.

They would deal with the aftermath, when the volcano erupted. They would position their forces to take advantage of the catastrophe on a global scale.

This was the only end they could hope to achieve.

Jim’s plan required the most delicate timing and meticulous preparation, it was a precarious endeavor. It came down to seconds, and those final seconds were everything.

The volcano buried beneath Yellowstone would destroy human civilization, but it would catalyze the preservation of humanity itself. A few people would live, but all would be saved through Kathy.

She was the vessel that he had spent thousands of years cultivating. She was ready and he knew it.

The cataclysm would change the Collective forever, the galactic Empire as well, it would destroy the Continuum, and replace it with a new consciousness, one endowed with a fully actualized and transcendent morality, or so Jim believed.

Jim had spent lifetimes building the institutions, and years putting all the right people in place, cultivating relationships of trust, bribing and coercing when he had to. He made sure that there were no obstacles in Kathy’s path, and that she was prompted to take each step that would lead her to the crucible at the precise moment.

She must be in position at the exact second the cataclysm occurred.

The final hours and minutes he was with her allowed him to put a psychic hold on her. This did not give him the ability to control her, or to determine anything.

It was a push, he gave her some momentum and set her on course.

He had established the relationships, with key people to push her further, to get her in the right place at the right time.

There were plans within plans, and contingencies for everything.

His greatest work depended on Kathy, depended on her openness to discovery, her instinct for safety and her genuine care for other people.

There is no fate.

There is no divine hand governing the movement of the stars.

Nothing is predetermined, but there are certainties, there are statistical inevitabilities.

The eruption of volcanoes is among them. They are the result of geological forces that cannot be stopped.

With sufficiently advanced technology, such forces can be harnessed, controlled, used for the benefit of the people.

There was nowhere, no planet in the great galactic Empire that did not have access to these resources.

Earth was alone, floating by itself in the far reaches of the spiral arm of the galaxy. It was an isolated backwater, hundreds of light years from the nearest Imperial outpost.

Earth did not have the resources of other worlds in the Empire, it had no knowledge of the Empire, and the Continuum would not allow it to possess one.

The disaster on Earth could have been mitigated, it could have been used for the advancement of human civilization, but their technology had not develop enough along, they were perhaps a century away from being able to manage these eventualities on their own, without technological aid.

The end of humanity hung there. It was suspended in the balance between the apathy of the Continuum and the fascination of the Collective.

The Collective loved every moment of the feed streaming from Earth, they were hungry for the music, the art, the culture, the intensity of its conflicts.

The Continuum wanted to see the whole thing crushed, set back, and controlled.

Chapter Eighteen, Disaster
Yellowstone National Park was a place of awesome-beauty, a landscape of surreal contrasts exploding from the living rock and shifting mountains.

It draws millions of visitors every year to wander its grounds and traverse its trails, including some who are simply driving through

It was a sanctuary for wildlife; a thousand little creatures preserved in their habitat as well as the apex species, the bison and the elk and the wolf who hunted them for food.

Yellowstone was made a National Park in 1872, through a law signed by United States President Ulysses S. Grant, one-hundred and twenty years before they discovered the volcano lurking beneath the fantastical landscape.

Yellowstone was a cradle of life, nested above the most deadly natural feature of planet Earth.

Earth’s molten core burned beneath its thin surface, a cauldron of liquid rock boiling below the mantle, deep inside a vast chamber filled with super-heated and poisonous gasses.

In the park, the most popular features for tourists, beside the landscape itself, were the hot springs, the bubbling waters and high flying geysers that blasted off with incredible regularity.

Heat from deep within the earth created these phenomenon. It melted exotic minerals in the waters, giving them bright, colorful and psychedelic trappings.

Some of the pools were so toxic and acidic they could melt the flesh off a person’s bones in seconds.

Changes in the pattern and timing of these geysers gave the tell to the monitors, that the Catastrophe was approaching, but it was too late.

The scientists of Earth only noticed the volcanic activity when the mountains surrounding Yellowstone Park began to lift.

They noticed a change of several centimeters over hundreds of square of miles of mountain range, between the newly conducted surveys and the surveys that had been taken a hundred years earlier.

At first they thought that there must have been a problem with the original surveil, but they ruled out that possibility in short order. The science of surveying was well established at the time they were originally done, even the equipment that a person would use to make those calculations had not changed much in the intervening decades.

The math was the math and it was sound.

It took the best geologists among them years to figure it out, that the changes were actually caused by geological uplift. The understanding of what that meant, its implications, took even more years to complete. They had to change their perspective significantly, they had to look at the area of uplift with satellite imagery and that is when they noticed that the entire Yellowstone Park was a massive volcano.

Even then, they did not know how significant the problem was.

Geologists from across the country began to study the park in minute detail. Looking at every strata of rock they could see exposed in the surfaces of the surrounding mountains, measuring, and re-measuring, and through their diligence they discovered the long cycles between eruptions of this killer volcano.

A six-hundred thousand year cycle, a cycle of planetary doom.

When they knew what features to look for, they discovered other such volcanos around the world. They discovered the volcano in Indonesia that last erupted seventy-four thousand years ago.

The Earth’s volcanologists, climatologists, and geophysicists weighed in. It was a small cabal of people. They correlated data from arctic ice core samples, soil samples, tree ring samples. They began to understand just how devastating an eruption of a volcano this size could be.

They were just beginning to understand it.

They were hoping it would not erupt in their lifetime.

Those hopes were in vain, the entire planet was under threat, no-one was safe.

There was a rumbling.

The seismographs told the tale.

They had been graphing it for years, but disbelief had crept into the analysis. The story was blacked out, even as the tar in the roads cutting through Yellowstone, above the volcano began to melt, cracking from the heat and the top researches on the site resigned to protest of the deliberate misinformation campaign the government waged to keep people in the dark.

The government knew the disaster was coming. They just could not be sure when. It might not happen in their lifetime, or it might happen tomorrow. It was an impossible thing for them to plan.

Those who understood the nature of the problem, and those who did not quite get it, they were all together in the same web of uncertainty, making the laypersons view as valid as the expert.

It was a quiet day in the great park.

Yellowstone was always quiet.

Deep beneath the earth something was happening. Pressure was building. Molten rock was bubbling, rushing into the great chamber.

The wildlife in the nature preserve sensed it first, birds took off with their entire flocks. Bison fled in droves. The wolf and the fox and the coyote followed them, all creatures great and small sought a path of escape.

Most of the humans looked on, befuddled.

A few knew what this meant, or believed they did. They sounded the warning. Some of them were alarmists, they were perceived as people who were always ringing the bell, Chicken Littles crying out, The Sky is Falling!

It ended up in the news of the weird.

Few of the researches fled the park, the all knew it was hopeless.

They wanted to see their families, perhaps one last time before it was all over. Those who could did, those who couldn’t opened bottles of Champagne and toasted the end of the world.

Their life’s work was now complete.

The survivalists retreated to their shelters, basking in the esteem of vindication.

They were being proved right.

Every living thing on Earth, above ground or in the air heard the explosion.

Everything, even the most remote creature in the deepest ocean, felt the blast.

Every creature walking or standing, stumbled and fell as the planet lurched, shuddered and shifted on its axis.

Fault lines cracked open, leaping a thousand years forward in the space of seconds.

It was a massive upheaval, it was turmoil on an unimaginable scale.

Skyscrapers came crashing down in cities around the world, as the continental plates groaned and twisted.

Planes and low orbiting satellites fell from the sky.

Chaos followed quickly upon the sound wave.

The desperate prayers of the dying-faithful rose up to greet it.

In security centers around the world the most astute military planners knew what had happened. Nevertheless, they were utterly bewildered by the scope and the magnitude of the devastation.

The level of instantaneous destruction was beyond any of their calculations, the collateral damage to geological and hydrological systems was not anything that anyone had conceived of.

Communications were down around the globe.

Nuclear reactors were off line and began melting down.

Tsunamis were rising in the shallow seas.

It was the end of the world.

It had been over six hundred and forty thousand years since the last massive eruption of the great North American volcano, six hundred and forty thousand years of pressure had been building.

Volcanoes erupted around the world all the time.

There were other smaller volcanoes of this type in other places.

The only witness to the last event was, who had been there seventy-four thousand years ago, when the last massive caldera blew.

The Indonesia volcano nearly wiped out the human race. It reduced a population of millions to just a few thousand. That volcano, while one of the largest on Earth, was only a tenth the size of the monster in Yellowstone.

When the Yellowstone Caldera blew, the Earth shook, the entire planet felt the rumble. The magnetic poles reversed, the world shifted on its axis, and wobbled in its orbit.

The stars, when they became visible again, would never look the same.

None of the scientists, the geologists and seismologists, none of them had any idea just how much power would be expelled when the eruption finally came.

None of them had long to contemplate their error.

If they had known they might have tried to do something about it, even in consideration of the risks. They might have tried to ease the pressure from the sleeping giant, but they never had a chance.

Life would certainly reestablish itself. New species would emerge. Some humans would survive, but they would all be changed.

Even still, the planet was doomed, its orbit was altered, and that alone spelled the end of the line for Earth.

Ash shot in to the stratosphere and fell back to the ground, burying North America in poisonous dust.

Clouds of fine particles and streams of deadly gases blanketed the entire world, blocking all light from the sun.

Within days nearly every living creature on the face of the earth was dead.

Those that survived were the most determined.

There were many who had readied for some kind of doomsday. They had prepared for nuclear war, an alien invasion, a zombie apocalypse, but not this.

A majority of those survivalists either died in the preliminary blast, and the subsequent correlated upheavals of the chaos that ensued.

Many died trying to reach their secret bunkers while roads became impassable, they were buried in the fallout.

Nevertheless, there were many who did make it.

Many who had sequestered themselves in hidden enclaves, in secret compounds. Some of them worked together.

For them, their stores of food needed to last years beyond the decades they had planned for. It would take that long for the sun to reappear, longer still for farming to be possible.

Human beings quickly became their own worst enemy.

Outsiders became foodstuff.

Cannibalism set in, as it always did, and quickly as it always did in times of crises.

It was, once again, the end of civilization.

The human race had faced this before, it was difficult, nearly impossible, but they had an Observer helping them in the past, they had Jim.

They made it through.

This time there would be no rescue, no wisdom from beyond, no help of any kind.

Volcanic eruptions of this magnitude were the prime movers of planetary evolution. Even the oceans were not immune from the fallout. All organic matter on the surface of Earth perished, becoming just another layer of clay. An event like this was a crucible, even more so in the present time than it had been in the past.

What was taking place in this iteration of the evolutionary cycle was something brand new. The biological evolution would take place as it had hundreds of times before in the history of the planet. In this cycle, however, a cognitive evolution was taking place at the same time, an evolution of the group consciousness, it was a designed evolution, it had been carefully planned by Jim, over the past seventy thousand years.

It was intended, and it meant that the human being who survived would have transcended into a brand new state of being.

There coming would change the Empire in the far reaches of the galaxy.

Half of the world’s population perished within days of the blast, most of the rest in the weeks, and months that followed.

By the end of the year, without intervention, the number of human being living on Earth would be down to a few thousand, or less.

Every species was affected; mammal, reptile, avian, insect. Those living on land were hurt the worst. There was widespread extinction. Entire ecosystems were just gone. Only nature’s apex survivors would continue; the crocodile, the turtle, and the frog.

Coastal areas provided recourse for the survivor. There were fish, there was water, there was mobility and there was power.

But it would take decades before the poisons were filtered from the atmosphere, all mammalian life would change as a result, but life would endure on the other side.
Chapter Nineteen, Consciousness
Birth is concrescence, the coalescence of matter organizing itself into a unique form. Birth is the quest of consciousness, the cognizant being emerging independent and alone, ready to observe the universe as an individuated node of self-hood.

Each instance of birth is the beginning of a series of reflections made by the universe, on itself, for itself. The relative length of those reflections is not germane. The only thing that matters is that they are made.

The bare witness is enough.

Not all life is capable of making these reflections.

Most life in the universe is silent, vegetative, passive; algae and fungus, plankton, and moss, grasses, and trees, bacteria and the ubiquitous virus, these life forms are most prevalent than any other. They mark a certain-narrow range of activity taking place in their environment, on their individual planets, orbiting their individual stars.

The animate life of fish and insect, of reptile and avian, of mammal, these life forms are rare. These animate beings see and do more, feel more than the vegetation they consume as food. But, until the discovery of Earth, there was only one world in the entire galaxy where it was known for life to have evolved into sapient creature, into creatures that learned to see beyond themselves, projecting images of themselves, of their hopes and fears and possible futures into the great beyond.

The Ancient People, who constructed the Continuum, they were the first, and until their colonists reached Earth, they thought they were the only one.

The human, homo sapient sapient; like every other organic being, is beset with the inherent biases of the animal brain.

The glands of the brain pump chemicals into the liquid consciousness of its neural net.

Strong emotions are generated here.

We are awash in them.

The animal brain is fearful. It is concerned with the most basic things; pleasure, pain, anger, fear.

It is inherently suspicious, having risen out of the world where the law of life is eat or be eaten.

It wants to regard every other creature as either a threat, or as food, as something to be exploited.

These tendencies rule the creature, and the search for safety.

This is not to say that human beings, and other creatures are not capable of learning trust, they can and they do, but trust is a learned behavior.

The tendency to see every other being in oppositional terms is never completely erased.

Otherness, alienation, these feelings are in constant tension with the supernal drive that is necessary to advance culture.

The rudiments of language are warnings.

Sirens and alarms link directly into the limbic system: fight or flight.

In times of plenty these feelings become less pronounced, they become easier to set aside.

In times of scarcity they rise immediately into the control centers of the brain, and generations of cultural conditioning that came to mitigate those responses can be erased in moments.

Even the human being, The homo sapient sapient, the animal with the most advanced neural net, even that creature will quickly fall into extremes of genocidal killing and cannibalism, when scarcity and fear, starvation and war, or other threatening circumstances come to dominate human consciousness. This is true whether the threat is real, or simply imagined.

There is a brief period of time for every mammal, when they are in the warmth and dark of the womb, a short time when they are one with another, their mother.

It is a time of total dependency.

Two hearts beating in the same body, sharing the same flow of blood, of oxygen. They are in a state of complete cynergy.

The father contributes a piece of the code for the formation of the new being, but that is it, the father merely influences the design.

The mother gives the child everything.

This does not end at birth.

The child travels with the mother in the warmth and dark of the womb for nine month, through genesis, formation and growth.

It learns the low tone of the mother’s voice, her rhythm of speaking, of moving, of singing.

The newborn infant takes all of its sustenance, either from the mother’s breast, or from the mother’s hand in the ultimate form of belonging to another.

The child travels with her everywhere, or desires to. There is no place safer, no greater feeling of security than to be placed against her flesh, in the blanket of her scent, to feel her voice resonate through her body.

Everyone else in the world is an alien, potentially hostile, a threat…except for mother.

There is no one more frightening than the father.

Stranger, protector, arbiter of conflict; a father is the first person the child seeks to bond with after separating from the mother.

The father is stern and foreboding.

For most tribes of early humans, as they migrated across the planet, the father was the ultimate authority, holding the power of life and death over his family and able to exercise it any time. There were few checks on his authority.

The child seeks to bond with, to understand, to contend with, and to please him.

In times when the actual father is not present, the child will find a surrogate and seek adoption.

The way in which the relationship develops between the child and father determines virtually everything about who the child will become in the eyes of the world.

The father imparts the public persona to the child, and the child carries that persona, like it does the fathers name, throughout its life and in the world.

Good or bad, the influence of the father is imparted to the child like an indelible mark.
Everything the father does, or does not do matters. Active or passive, present or absent, the role the father plays in the child’s life shapes them. None of the father’s words, none of his gestures, not a single touch, or glace occurs in a vacuum.

The child absorbs it all. Everything done and left undone is determinative of who the child will become, and the esteem they will experience in the world.

We are each of us a reflection of the image the father projects on us, not a perfect facsimile but a living representation of the intentions and wishes of the patriarch.

After the mother and father, our sisters and brothers are the first people with whom they share a common bond, and with whom we compete.

We identify with our siblings, discover betrayal through them, experience them as a threat, and learn from them both how to love and how to forgive.

The human capacity for empathy is refined through our relationships with our siblings. Having first learned to love them, we are able to extend that compassion to others.

If we learn to hate them, be jealous of them, covet their place in the world, then by extension we are able to project those same feelings onto anyone.

Human history is replete with the stories of siblings, accomplishing great things together, and allowing their rivalries to destroy them.

Cain slew able, he killed him with a stone.

Romulus killed Remus, he cast his brother from the walls of Rome, broke his body on the rocks below, a blood-sacrifice for the eternal city.

The duplicity of the human being, our duality, our capacity for selflessness and self-centeredness are demonstrated in these relationships more poignantly than in any other.

A brother or sister will at one moment put their lives at risk to protect their sibling from harm or even the specter of harm, and in another moment plot to take their life and destroy their extended family.

The sibling bond is the strongest of all bonds, apart from the bond the child has with its mother. When the tension is so great that it breaks, the resulting backlash has the potential to scar everyone who is near it.

It is no small thing to reprogram the animal brain, to take the essentially selfish organism and transform it into something new. Suspicious creatures become altruistic only by learning and through experience, through the bonding of the senses and by neural linguistic programming, by ritual and narrative.

The first stage is complete when the individual person comes to see the family as an extension of the self, when they see their well-being, their fate is tied to the fate and the well-being of others, both in this life and the next.

The brain is an evolving structure. It mutates, both over the course of the life of the individual, and by procreation, from generation to generation.

Most of the mutations are not visible or even noticeably structural. They are packed into the dense tissues of the neural network in the brain.

With every new experience a new thread is spun, a thread as thin as a sequence of proteins, and with that the organ of the brain is changed, at the same time the code inside the cells is rewritten, peptides and amino acid redraft the genetic sequence, and the endowment is passed on to succeeding generations, it is a growing inheritence.

The greatest periods of growth and change are infancy and childhood. When every sound and sight, every smell and touch, every taste is actively changing the nascent being, especially at this time when they are learning the language of its family and tribe.

The human being will begin to see the well-being of the family and tribe as being in alignment with their own, identical to it, without regard for the hurts and minor competitions that ensued while growing-up together.

The other becomes one, when this has occurred we will protect those closest to us with a ferocity equal to our own drive for safety, because they have in reality become a recognizable part of who we are, our relationship to them, our memories of them have changed our genetic codes and the physical structure of the brain, both.

Blood and family, they bind us, they may confine us, but they may also set us free.

As we become self-aware we also become “other-aware.” We struggle with the full array of human emotions. We feel the flood of neuro-chemicals and learn to control the mechanae which regulate them. The most significant among them being fear.

Fear lodged deep within the limbic system, in the far reaches of the “reptilian” brain, in the spine and the neural network flowing out from it into our extremities, fear is the great divider, our limitations are founded in it.

We come into the knowledge of self, fearing any and all others, seeing them first as dangerous, as threatening. Every other person we encounter, accept the mother who gave birth to us, who anchors us through our memory of the womb, every other person is a potential adversary, is an actual adversary until we learn to see them in another light

Every person has a different learning curve, a unique capacity for the things of their experience they remember, recall and contextualize.

The acquisition of language gives us a taxonomy, the linguistic tools to understand these differentiations: self, mother, father self, brother, sister, self…it is a code that grows and continues to grow.

It is open ended: self, uncle, aunt, self, cousin, self, offspring, self, niece, nephew, self, spouse, self, friend, self…

It is through kinship, by relating to those whom we believe share our deepest interests that we learn to see strangers as other-selves, even the adversary.

There are language games, there is neuro-linguistic programming in every culture that can force these issues. They combine words and actions, feelings of mystery through rituals of shame, fear and empowerment, which break down barriers, moving a person rapidly through every stage of acceptance in regard to another. Religion, and ritual, military service and shared suffering among them. By passing through these stages a person become fully realized and in possession of their true self.

Chapter Twenty, Collective

The care of a loving family is like the wet clinging mesh of a spider’s web. Humans are trapped in it, suspended, enwrapped in it. The majority of people who have ever lived, never lived a day apart from these sticky-bonds.

Familial obligations are invisible. We are bound by them through our emotions; by fear and love, hate and pride, anger, hope, and jealousy, the feelings that bind us to our parents and our siblings, to our clans like the ligaments that join bones to muscles.

We are conditioned by rituals; by the stories we tell, the drums we play, by music, and language, by the seasons we live and the hours of the day. They are the food that nourishes our identity. We are raised in the patterns that play themselves out, in both the small cycles and the great.

Everything we are comes from the family, everything we do redounds to the family name, the name of our clan, our tribe, our village, our state.

Our identities are completely enmeshed with the identity of the group we are raised in. Only the most profound betrayal can break the patterns we are conditioned to live by, and even then, those who break free from their familial identity, or through no choice of their own are exiled and then cast-out, they leave the family only to recreate the same structures in new places with new people.

The individual can be raised up, lifted high, made strong by their family and tribe.

They can also be shunted, marginalized, and cast aside.

Families have a tendency to cannibalize their strength. In times of great need they will go so far as to eat their own, or set up the strongest and most beautiful as holy victims for the gods they worship, to barter their best and brightest away in the hope of some kind of boon.

As families become clans the bonds of loyalty are fixed in the body, constructed by chemicals and enzymes, by proteins and amino acids, by the songs and rhythms unique to each group, and through which they reinforce the knowledge of their history, their ancestral memories, passing them on from one generation to the next.

These are bonds that we do not see, bonds we never question.

Rituals are developed to lift up and memorialize the common ancestors whose great deeds, or terrible failures were such that the clans wrote songs about them, and passed them on to their children, and their children’s children, as the saga of their kin.

Every person reared within the group learned to see themselves as a continuation of the clan’s broader narrative. They saw their own deeds as a reflection of the deeds of their ancestors.

They imagined their departed dead as living beside them, all around them, and they were not wrong.

The departed spoke to them through ancestral memory, not just the patterns of their consciousness remaining with the clans and tribes, but their actual consciousness remaining with individual families, bound to them and the planet in the electromagnetic field called the nous-sphere.

The ritual remembering, the songs they sang, the drums they beat, these reinforced the connection and secured it, keeping it vital through that period when the groupings of human beings were still small enough that every person could trace their connection to the other through their blood lines.

They were migrating and wandering, they were navigating by the stars. They marked their narratives by the movement of the constellations, and projected their own stories into the heavens.

They were together and they were one.

Every individual saw themselves as a part of the tribe, and saw the fullness of the tribe as manifested in them. The clan was the clearest representation of the structure of human unity and belonging. It had a sufficient critical mass to draw the individual outside of themselves, and yet it was not large enough for the individual to feel lost within it. The clan was the family writ large, it was small enough to be intimate and large enough to provide for the safety of the group through the structures they form.

Hierarchies emerge in village life, just as they do everywhere in the animal world.

Human beings are animals after all, and in their need to establish social structures they are no different from the wolf, or the lion, or the ram.

In the animal world it could be dangerous, even deadly. The competition for leadership was intense, it was largely physical, and the strongest usually won.

Among humans the intensity was no less, but it was often more deadly, and physical strength was not the most significant indicator of primacy.

Social hierarchies formed in villages; around the well, at the markets, in the places of worship and religious life, and most importantly in the seat judgment.

The center is everything, with social rank flowing from it in concentric rings.

A person was either in or out of the village, either in or out of the center, with movement and access regulated between the spheres.

The beginning of cohesion around village life was the beginning of the disintegration of families, clans, and tribes.
The social order was undergoing change, metamorphosis, redefining allegiances.

These developments were not uniform, it did not happen in all places at once. It happened in key places; at the confluence of rivers, along the shores of the great inland lakes, in the desert oasis, at any place where the movements of migratory tribes would bring them together.

The villages were rising.

There was safety in the tribe, and the ability to test one’s self through competition with peers.

There was jealousy, yes, and envy. There were customs and taboos that were well established, intending to prevent such things from having a harmful impact on the life of the group and its cohesion

There were shared customs and stories, rituals, things that shaped both the structure of the tribe and its future. The narratives they spun taught all of its members the means by which they could advance, redress wrongs, recover from injury, hold fast to their position.

The tribal life was essentially democratic, members of the tribe could come and go as they pleased. There were no laws to bind them. There was only duty, obligation, and the expectation of those who were dependent.

It was only when the migrations ended and the tribes became fixed in villages and hamlets that the notion that people could be treated like property advanced and class systems became entrenched.

During the time of migrations men and women were essentially equal, neither was the property of the other, the concept of ownership was alien and everyone had a say in the destiny of the group.

The tribe might be governed by a chief, there could be a de facto leader, especially in times of conflict. That person was more often than not merely the voice of the people, the arbiter, the mediator, the negotiator, and judge.

In place of the single leader, more often than not, a council of elders held sway over the life of the tribe. The tribe did what it could to give every person a voice, to be inclusive. Everyone was a part of the whole.

Then there were the others.

Encampments became villages, and villages became towns. The human communities were growing, coming into greater contact with one another, realigning themselves both through necessity and by choice.

Towns grew into cities while people migrated into urban centers for trade and work. Individuals pulled away from their families, from their clans and tribes, pulling themselves into new relationships with merchants and farmers, with herders of new and different breeds of animals.

They clung together in ever greater numbers, both for protection, and opportunity. Learning from each other new ways of life, alien rituals and practices that each group had developed around their totem animals, their symbiotes, these began to be synthesized, re-contextualized for the purposive of enlarging the group.

In the beginning we learned to honor the other, the stranger, and we held in esteem the strengths they brought to new society.

They farmed, they built granaries and the foundations of the city flowed from there, from wellsprings to ziggurats.

The granaries became temples, where the people prayed for and received their daily allotment of food, grain and seed to themselves and their families. Temples became fortresses where they stored the fruit of their labor up against times of conflict, drought, disease and famine.

The temples became towers, ziggurats, great platforms that touched the sky, and from which the sages plotted the movement of stars across the heavens. These became the seat of priestly-royalty, and the place from which the laws flowed which bound human beings to their caste, class and station.

Families dispersed, becoming ever less important.

The division of labor ensued.

What became paramount were the relationship the individual had to neighbors and teachers, to systems of patronage and clientage. The individual had the potential to become both everything and nothing, a god-like figure or a slave, to be named in the annals, recalled and remembered, to be sung about or to be utterly forgotten. To achieve immortality through the songs and sagas of the people, or to become dust, nothing at all.

Most, the vast majority, nearly all went unremembered, but they did not disappear.

The cities gathered towns and villages to themselves, expanding and absorbing them, pulling their people away from their homes, relocating them in the urban centers. Cities did this just as clans and tribes had done with families and kin in past ages.

The bonds that formed were weaker than family bonds. Individually they were weak and flimsy, but like the spokes of wheel, together they supported a structure of great strength, capable of extraordinary movement, both radiating from the center and supporting the outer frame.

In the urban core social power concentrated itself in the hands of the few, the elite and the strong, the wealthy…the cunning.

The poor and the newly arrived, if they were free citizens, they needed representation.

The majority of those living in the urban centers were enslaved, either owned as private property, or they were the property of the state, its institutions and its temples, they belonged to the war machine that kept the state alive.

The free people needed sponsorship, the poor enjoined relationships with the rich, they became clients to their patrons, and these new bonds became formalized into extra-familial systems of societal structure.

This was a new version of a family, famiglia only loosely related to blood ties. Inter marriage and progeny strengthened these bonds, but they were not required.

These were the ancient bonds of vassalage.

They were bonds of the imagination, and bonds of determination. They were bonds of circumstance, and will, not happenstance or hereditary accident. They were forged by choices.

The cities became states, and in the cauldrons of statehood the relationships between all things and beings were redefined and refined.

Common language, common custom, rituals and religion all conspired to tie people together, just as connective tissues sew the limbs of the body together in the joints. Shared experiences are the sinews of human culture.

There are extrinsic and intrinsic movements with the ritual framework. Well executed rituals engage all of the senses.

The best rituals go beyond the physical structure of the world, and join the participants to one another through the inner sanctum of their memory, recalling the ancestral rhythms that move them.

When a ritual is serving its purpose it points the individual to a place beyond themselves, and creates in that person the sense that they are being pulled, drawn, or called in that direction.

Proper ritual juxtaposes the past and the future, it holds the ancestral memory in tension with future expectations.

When the rites are well executed it creates a space in which the whole community is moved by contact with the cynergenic field. They enter the nous sphere, and they transcend themselves and become one.

These are the essential building blocks of group identity and with their perfection came the ability to pull all the disparate parts of human culture together.

Nations were formed out of states, building on the foundations of security and prosperity for the people.

The old allegiances of family, tribe and clan were shifting ever-outward, away from people, into the world of ideas.

The fundamental buildings blocks of human identity were changing. Their National identity transcended their sense of themselves as a member of a family, and even as individuals.

Chapter Twenty-one, Migration
Families gathered together in sheltered spaces, a clearing in the trees.

They formed bands, small groups that clung to one another for safety.

They established camps close to the springs that fed the clear streams providing them with the clean water they needed for life, and nourishment.

They built their fires, burning bright, smoking fish, birds and rabbits. The fed off of any other type of meat that could be taken down with the shafts of their javelins and atlatls, their spears and stones and arrows.

They had returned to the primordial life.

The built small shelters in and around the trees.

They only moved when they had depleted the resources in the forests that surrounded them.

Everything was temporary.

When they had burned all of the fuel, eaten all of the nuts and berries, the wild onions and mushrooms and cleared the region of the living beings they feasted on, then they would move.

Through their story telling the developed the ethos that the migratory life was the path that nature had intended. It was the life of the natural person, it was peaceful and well ordered, and provided the tribal-bands with everything they needed from season to season.

When the sky cleared and the azure-deep returned to the day. When the paths of the stars was once again visible at night, the families and tribes left the security of the forests, foregoing the great green canopies that had been their shelter.

They looked across the desserts and plains, looked over the tall grasses and steep dunes, and took to them, exposing themselves beneath in the open.

They came to worship the sky in its brilliant-blue, in its angry-gray.

The sky was open to their imagination, wide and welcoming and yet oppressing at the same time. Its clouds gave them relief from the burning sun and covered them like a blanket in the cold night. It brought the rain, which meant life, and it brought the judgement of the lightning bolt.

There were dangers lurking everywhere in the open spaces. The plains were a place of constant threat, from great beasts and from other tribes.

On the plains there was also freedom of movement and the joy of wandering, which was something that called to them, it pushed them with an existential imperative.

Survival required constant vigilance, a discipline that was not as great as the life they had lived, in the comfort of the forests and the woodland caves.

They marked their journey with the stars and navigated from place to place by following the brightest beacons shining in the Milky Way

They migrated with the herds and flocks, following them, hunting them, gathering the grains and sweet grasses of the field to add to their feasts.

In the face of every danger they were free, they were a people without care. They clung together for safety, and separated from one another to pursue their own paths, only to return in their migrations to the appointed meeting places, at determined times, following the seasons, the voices of the wind, and the movements of the moon and planets.

It was a time of abundance, the tribes were growing, becoming stronger, relearning their ancient ways.

They wandered the open plains, and crossed the broad savannahs, invaded the wide deserts and took to the greening fields.

They climbed to the tops of hills, drawn closer to the stars from which they came, and they counted them.

They piled stones atop one another, fitting them neatly together, building their homes with a wide view of their surroundings.

The humans were looking upward and outward in search of their memories, recalling unconsciously the sojourn of their ancient ancestors.

They rested on the hill-tops, beneath the stars and sun, resting at the feet of mountains, beside their waterfalls and streams.

As they listened to the sound of the wind through the rocks, and through the grasses, the rhythm of their music changed, and the stories they told took on a new character.

They were safe on the hilltops beneath the open skies.

The tribes organized themselves in new ways, in vertical hierarchies, in accordance with the physical structure of their encampments.

Their migrations took them from hill top to hill top, hunting and gathering the riches of the fields.

They gathered the herds and flocks to themselves; shepherds, and cowherds, and goatherds, every tribe developed its own way of being with the animals they tended.

They domesticated the wolf, and walked beside the bear as an equal.

They lived with them, led them to water, protected them against all the dangers of the wild. Their animals became sacred to them, totems of spiritual power.

They gave milk and meat, hides and wool, the totem animal gave everything to the tribes, and the tribes learned to see themselves as extended in the herd.

They lived as symbiotes together; the goat people and the sheep people, the cow people and the horse people.

They led the herds into the mountains, they scaled the lofty peaks looking for new pastures and passes and crossings to other worlds.

They found themselves in the highest places, they found the sacred in the thin air at the top of the world.

They strode across the icy glaciers, building fires in the snow. They learned through the collective experience that there was no place on Earth where they could not go.

Only the sky was their limit and the depths of the sea, they dreamed of sprouting wings. They dreamed of flying from the mountain tops, of reaching out to the touch the sun and stars.

They remembered the sojourn of their forbears in myth and song.

The tribes were always moving, always looking for new places, wandering beneath the stars, moving with the seasons, staying ahead of the weather, moving with the currents of the wind.

They followed the rivers to their source, up the winding streams, tracking down every branch. They followed them to the clear springs from which the water flowed, bubbling-up from the deep reservoirs within the earth.

They followed the flowing water back down their channels, tracked down each curve and bend as they widened into creeks and rivulets, becoming streams that flowed into rivers.

They followed the rivers to the lakes they fed, they camped along those shorelines, fishing, and bathing in sun.

They followed the churning waters, past their waterfalls, and their rapids, following them to the place where they merged with inland seas and outward to the oceans.

They founded settlements along the way. From springs and head waters, to the point of each confluence, they made their encampments. They left the markers of their tribes; tokens, totems and burial mounds, even as they wandered, returning to them in their cycles with the seasons.

Every spring was the birth place of a god, of gods and goddesses emerging from the earth like children from the womb. Water was sacred, every brook was imbued with inherent spiritual power. There were grave penalties in tribal justice for defiling the living streams.

From mountain springs to the delta flow, the rivers were the first markers of a tribe’s territory.

The confluence of water-ways marked the coming together of tribal alliances, or they became the sources of tribal conflict.

The foot paths in the forests were serene and stable. The people traversed them in safety and seclusion, hidden by the trees and brush.

They crossed into the open prairie, the broad meadows, the open deserts and the snowy fields.

The paths they laid down were narrow, and shifting.

The tribes traversed them in long lines, marching single file, laying down the course for those that followed.

The wind erased the trails they made in sand and snow.

The grasses and the wild flowers sprang back in their wake.

The streams and rivers were the markers of lanes that could be followed from one destination to the next.

They came to the great lakes and seas, the broad shorelines of the world’s oceans became the first roads.

They trekked across them as if they were long and winding highways, herding their flocks by the deep.

The way was easy by the coast, beneath the stars, following the water’s edge from camp to camp.

They pitched their tents in the places where the rivers met the sea. Where the fresh water flowed into the salty brine.

The surface of the Earth was slowly repopulated, and the existential dread that had gripped the human race during the decades of darkness had eased.

They were growing in numbers, strength and pride and esteem.

On thin strips of wood, in fragile dugout canoes, they hurled their bodies onto the rivers and lakes.

They threw themselves into the ocean, just as their ancient forebears had done when they crossed the stars.

They were looking for new ways of life, a life among the waves and currents and tides, a life on the water.

They were searching for mysteries in the deep, beneath the ever changing face of the water’s surface.

They lived on their little skiffs, casting spears and nets and lines with hooks into the water from which they drew their catch.

They spent their days on the water beneath the sun, paddling to and from the shore, diving into the shallows to gather, clams and oysters and muscles.

They spent their nights under the flowing lights of the stars.

The stars sang to them, each glowing orb with a voice its own, and they imagined a galaxy, every bright light suspended in black liquid, soaring through the ether.

Their dreams were transcendent.

Many were swept away in the accidental crossing of storms.

Some perished.

Others clung to their tiny crafts, their rafts, and found their way to other shores, thousands of miles from home.
Emergence 4.0
Part Three, Earth

A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Three, Earth; Chapter Twenty-one, Migration

Week 22
Families gathered together in sheltered spaces, a clearing in the trees.

They formed bands, small groups that clung to one another for safety.

They established camps close to the springs that fed the clear streams providing them with the clean water they needed for life, and nourishment.

They built their fires, burning bright, smoking fish, birds and rabbits. The fed off of any other type of meat that could be taken down with the shafts of their javelins and atlatls, their spears and stones and arrows.

They had returned to the primordial life.

The built small shelters in and around the trees.

They only moved when they had depleted the resources in the forests that surrounded them.

Everything was temporary.

When they had burned all of the fuel, eaten all of the nuts and berries, the wild onions and mushrooms and cleared the region of the living beings they feasted on, then they would move.

Through their story telling the developed the ethos that the migratory life was the path that nature had intended. It was the life of the natural person, it was peaceful and well ordered, and provided the tribal-bands with everything they needed from season to season.

When the sky cleared and the azure-deep returned to the day. When the paths of the stars was once again visible at night, the families and tribes left the security of the forests, foregoing the great green canopies that had been their shelter.

They looked across the desserts and plains, looked over the tall grasses and steep dunes, and took to them, exposing themselves beneath in the open.

They came to worship the sky in its brilliant-blue, in its angry-gray.

The sky was open to their imagination, wide and welcoming and yet oppressing at the same time. Its clouds gave them relief from the burning sun and covered them like a blanket in the cold night. It brought the rain, which meant life, and it brought the judgement of the lightning bolt.

There were dangers lurking everywhere in the open spaces. The plains were a place of constant threat, from great beasts and from other tribes.

On the plains there was also freedom of movement and the joy of wandering, which was something that called to them, it pushed them with an existential imperative.

Survival required constant vigilance, a discipline that was not as great as the life they had lived, in the comfort of the forests and the woodland caves.

They marked their journey with the stars and navigated from place to place by following the brightest beacons shining in the Milky Way

They migrated with the herds and flocks, following them, hunting them, gathering the grains and sweet grasses of the field to add to their feasts.

In the face of every danger they were free, they were a people without care. They clung together for safety, and separated from one another to pursue their own paths, only to return in their migrations to the appointed meeting places, at determined times, following the seasons, the voices of the wind, and the movements of the moon and planets.

It was a time of abundance, the tribes were growing, becoming stronger, relearning their ancient ways.

They wandered the open plains, and crossed the broad savannahs, invaded the wide deserts and took to the greening fields.

They climbed to the tops of hills, drawn closer to the stars from which they came, and they counted them.

They piled stones atop one another, fitting them neatly together, building their homes with a wide view of their surroundings.

The humans were looking upward and outward in search of their memories, recalling unconsciously the sojourn of their ancient ancestors.

They rested on the hill-tops, beneath the stars and sun, resting at the feet of mountains, beside their waterfalls and streams.

As they listened to the sound of the wind through the rocks, and through the grasses, the rhythm of their music changed, and the stories they told took on a new character.

They were safe on the hilltops beneath the open skies.

The tribes organized themselves in new ways, in vertical hierarchies, in accordance with the physical structure of their encampments.

Their migrations took them from hill top to hill top, hunting and gathering the riches of the fields.

They gathered the herds and flocks to themselves; shepherds, and cowherds, and goatherds, every tribe developed its own way of being with the animals they tended.

They domesticated the wolf, and walked beside the bear as an equal.

They lived with them, led them to water, protected them against all the dangers of the wild. Their animals became sacred to them, totems of spiritual power.

They gave milk and meat, hides and wool, the totem animal gave everything to the tribes, and the tribes learned to see themselves as extended in the herd.

They lived as symbiotes together; the goat people and the sheep people, the cow people and the horse people.

They led the herds into the mountains, they scaled the lofty peaks looking for new pastures and passes and crossings to other worlds.

They found themselves in the highest places, they found the sacred in the thin air at the top of the world.

They strode across the icy glaciers, building fires in the snow. They learned through the collective experience that there was no place on Earth where they could not go.

Only the sky was their limit and the depths of the sea, they dreamed of sprouting wings. They dreamed of flying from the mountain tops, of reaching out to the touch the sun and stars.

They remembered the sojourn of their forbears in myth and song.

The tribes were always moving, always looking for new places, wandering beneath the stars, moving with the seasons, staying ahead of the weather, moving with the currents of the wind.

They followed the rivers to their source, up the winding streams, tracking down every branch. They followed them to the clear springs from which the water flowed, bubbling-up from the deep reservoirs within the earth.

They followed the flowing water back down their channels, tracked down each curve and bend as they widened into creeks and rivulets, becoming streams that flowed into rivers.

They followed the rivers to the lakes they fed, they camped along those shorelines, fishing, and bathing in sun.

They followed the churning waters, past their waterfalls, and their rapids, following them to the place where they merged with inland seas and outward to the oceans.

They founded settlements along the way. From springs and head waters, to the point of each confluence, they made their encampments. They left the markers of their tribes; tokens, totems and burial mounds, even as they wandered, returning to them in their cycles with the seasons.

Every spring was the birth place of a god, of gods and goddesses emerging from the earth like children from the womb. Water was sacred, every brook was imbued with inherent spiritual power. There were grave penalties in tribal justice for defiling the living streams.

From mountain springs to the delta flow, the rivers were the first markers of a tribe’s territory.

The confluence of water-ways marked the coming together of tribal alliances, or they became the sources of tribal conflict.

The foot paths in the forests were serene and stable. The people traversed them in safety and seclusion, hidden by the trees and brush.

They crossed into the open prairie, the broad meadows, the open deserts and the snowy fields.

The paths they laid down were narrow, and shifting.

The tribes traversed them in long lines, marching single file, laying down the course for those that followed.

The wind erased the trails they made in sand and snow.

The grasses and the wild flowers sprang back in their wake.

The streams and rivers were the markers of lanes that could be followed from one destination to the next.

They came to the great lakes and seas, the broad shorelines of the world’s oceans became the first roads.

They trekked across them as if they were long and winding highways, herding their flocks by the deep.

The way was easy by the coast, beneath the stars, following the water’s edge from camp to camp.

They pitched their tents in the places where the rivers met the sea. Where the fresh water flowed into the salty brine.

The surface of the Earth was slowly repopulated, and the existential dread that had gripped the human race during the decades of darkness had eased.

They were growing in numbers, strength and pride and esteem.

On thin strips of wood, in fragile dugout canoes, they hurled their bodies onto the rivers and lakes.

They threw themselves into the ocean, just as their ancient forebears had done when they crossed the stars.

They were looking for new ways of life, a life among the waves and currents and tides, a life on the water.

They were searching for mysteries in the deep, beneath the ever changing face of the water’s surface.

They lived on their little skiffs, casting spears and nets and lines with hooks into the water from which they drew their catch.

They spent their days on the water beneath the sun, paddling to and from the shore, diving into the shallows to gather, clams and oysters and muscles.

They spent their nights under the flowing lights of the stars.

The stars sang to them, each glowing orb with a voice its own, and they imagined a galaxy, every bright light suspended in black liquid, soaring through the ether.

Their dreams were transcendent.

Many were swept away in the accidental crossing of storms.

Some perished.

Others clung to their tiny crafts, their rafts, and found their way to other shores, thousands of miles from home.
Emergence 4.0
Part Three, Earth

Chapter Twenty-one, Migration

A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Three, Earth; Chapter Twenty, Collective

Week 21
The care of a loving family is like the wet clinging mesh of a spider’s web. Humans are trapped in it, suspended, enwrapped in it. The majority of people who have ever lived, never lived a day apart from these sticky-bonds.

Familial obligations are invisible. We are bound by them through our emotions; by fear and love, hate and pride, anger, hope, and jealousy, the feelings that bind us to our parents and our siblings, to our clans like the ligaments that join bones to muscles.

We are conditioned by rituals; by the stories we tell, the drums we play, by music, and language, by the seasons we live and the hours of the day. They are the food that nourishes our identity. We are raised in the patterns that play themselves out, in both the small cycles and the great.

Everything we are comes from the family, everything we do redounds to the family name, the name of our clan, our tribe, our village, our state.

Our identities are completely enmeshed with the identity of the group we are raised in. Only the most profound betrayal can break the patterns we are conditioned to live by, and even then, those who break free from their familial identity, or through no choice of their own are exiled and then cast-out, they leave the family only to recreate the same structures in new places with new people.

The individual can be raised up, lifted high, made strong by their family and tribe.

They can also be shunted, marginalized, and cast aside.

Families have a tendency to cannibalize their strength. In times of great need they will go so far as to eat their own, or set up the strongest and most beautiful as holy victims for the gods they worship, to barter their best and brightest away in the hope of some kind of boon.

As families become clans the bonds of loyalty are fixed in the body, constructed by chemicals and enzymes, by proteins and amino acids, by the songs and rhythms unique to each group, and through which they reinforce the knowledge of their history, their ancestral memories, passing them on from one generation to the next.

These are bonds that we do not see, bonds we never question.

Rituals are developed to lift up and memorialize the common ancestors whose great deeds, or terrible failures were such that the clans wrote songs about them, and passed them on to their children, and their children’s children, as the saga of their kin.

Every person reared within the group learned to see themselves as a continuation of the clan’s broader narrative. They saw their own deeds as a reflection of the deeds of their ancestors.

They imagined their departed dead as living beside them, all around them, and they were not wrong.

The departed spoke to them through ancestral memory, not just the patterns of their consciousness remaining with the clans and tribes, but their actual consciousness remaining with individual families, bound to them and the planet in the electromagnetic field called the nous-sphere.

The ritual remembering, the songs they sang, the drums they beat, these reinforced the connection and secured it, keeping it vital through that period when the groupings of human beings were still small enough that every person could trace their connection to the other through their blood lines.

They were migrating and wandering, they were navigating by the stars. They marked their narratives by the movement of the constellations, and projected their own stories into the heavens.

They were together and they were one.

Every individual saw themselves as a part of the tribe, and saw the fullness of the tribe as manifested in them. The clan was the clearest representation of the structure of human unity and belonging. It had a sufficient critical mass to draw the individual outside of themselves, and yet it was not large enough for the individual to feel lost within it. The clan was the family writ large, it was small enough to be intimate and large enough to provide for the safety of the group through the structures they form.

Hierarchies emerge in village life, just as they do everywhere in the animal world.

Human beings are animals after all, and in their need to establish social structures they are no different from the wolf, or the lion, or the ram.

In the animal world it could be dangerous, even deadly. The competition for leadership was intense, it was largely physical, and the strongest usually won.

Among humans the intensity was no less, but it was often more deadly, and physical strength was not the most significant indicator of primacy.

Social hierarchies formed in villages; around the well, at the markets, in the places of worship and religious life, and most importantly in the seat judgment.

The center is everything, with social rank flowing from it in concentric rings.

A person was either in or out of the village, either in or out of the center, with movement and access regulated between the spheres.

The beginning of cohesion around village life was the beginning of the disintegration of families, clans, and tribes.

The social order was undergoing change, metamorphosis, redefining allegiances.

These developments were not uniform, it did not happen in all places at once. It happened in key places; at the confluence of rivers, along the shores of the great inland lakes, in the desert oasis, at any place where the movements of migratory tribes would bring them together.

The villages were rising.

There was safety in the tribe, and the ability to test one’s self through competition with peers.

There was jealousy, yes, and envy. There were customs and taboos that were well established, intending to prevent such things from having a harmful impact on the life of the group and its cohesion

There were shared customs and stories, rituals, things that shaped both the structure of the tribe and its future. The narratives they spun taught all of its members the means by which they could advance, redress wrongs, recover from injury, hold fast to their position.

The tribal life was essentially democratic, members of the tribe could come and go as they pleased. There were no laws to bind them. There was only duty, obligation, and the expectation of those who were dependent.

It was only when the migrations ended and the tribes became fixed in villages and hamlets that the notion that people could be treated like property advanced and class systems became entrenched.

During the time of migrations men and women were essentially equal, neither was the property of the other, the concept of ownership was alien and everyone had a say in the destiny of the group.

The tribe might be governed by a chief, there could be a de facto leader, especially in times of conflict. That person was more often than not merely the voice of the people, the arbiter, the mediator, the negotiator, and judge.

In place of the single leader, more often than not, a council of elders held sway over the life of the tribe. The tribe did what it could to give every person a voice, to be inclusive. Everyone was a part of the whole.

Then there were the others.

Encampments became villages, and villages became towns. The human communities were growing, coming into greater contact with one another, realigning themselves both through necessity and by choice.

Towns grew into cities while people migrated into urban centers for trade and work. Individuals pulled away from their families, from their clans and tribes, pulling themselves into new relationships with merchants and farmers, with herders of new and different breeds of animals.

They clung together in ever greater numbers, both for protection, and opportunity. Learning from each other new ways of life, alien rituals and practices that each group had developed around their totem animals, their symbiotes, these began to be synthesized, re-contextualized for the purposive of enlarging the group.

In the beginning we learned to honor the other, the stranger, and we held in esteem the strengths they brought to new society.

They farmed, they built granaries and the foundations of the city flowed from there, from wellsprings to ziggurats.

The granaries became temples, where the people prayed for and received their daily allotment of food, grain and seed to themselves and their families. Temples became fortresses where they stored the fruit of their labor up against times of conflict, drought, disease and famine.

The temples became towers, ziggurats, great platforms that touched the sky, and from which the sages plotted the movement of stars across the heavens. These became the seat of priestly-royalty, and the place from which the laws flowed which bound human beings to their caste, class and station.

Families dispersed, becoming ever less important.

The division of labor ensued.

What became paramount were the relationship the individual had to neighbors and teachers, to systems of patronage and clientage. The individual had the potential to become both everything and nothing, a god-like figure or a slave, to be named in the annals, recalled and remembered, to be sung about or to be utterly forgotten. To achieve immortality through the songs and sagas of the people, or to become dust, nothing at all.

Most, the vast majority, nearly all went unremembered, but they did not disappear.

The cities gathered towns and villages to themselves, expanding and absorbing them, pulling their people away from their homes, relocating them in the urban centers. Cities did this just as clans and tribes had done with families and kin in past ages.

The bonds that formed were weaker than family bonds. Individually they were weak and flimsy, but like the spokes of wheel, together they supported a structure of great strength, capable of extraordinary movement, both radiating from the center and supporting the outer frame.

In the urban core social power concentrated itself in the hands of the few, the elite and the strong, the wealthy…the cunning.

The poor and the newly arrived, if they were free citizens, they needed representation.

The majority of those living in the urban centers were enslaved, either owned as private property, or they were the property of the state, its institutions and its temples, they belonged to the war machine that kept the state alive.

The free people needed sponsorship, the poor enjoined relationships with the rich, they became clients to their patrons, and these new bonds became formalized into extra-familial systems of societal structure.

This was a new version of a family, famiglia only loosely related to blood ties. Inter marriage and progeny strengthened these bonds, but they were not required.

These were the ancient bonds of vassalage.

They were bonds of the imagination, and bonds of determination. They were bonds of circumstance, and will, not happenstance or hereditary accident. They were forged by choices.

The cities became states, and in the cauldrons of statehood the relationships between all things and beings were redefined and refined.

Common language, common custom, rituals and religion all conspired to tie people together, just as connective tissues sew the limbs of the body together in the joints. Shared experiences are the sinews of human culture.

There are extrinsic and intrinsic movements with the ritual framework. Well executed rituals engage all of the senses.

The best rituals go beyond the physical structure of the world, and join the participants to one another through the inner sanctum of their memory, recalling the ancestral rhythms that move them.

When a ritual is serving its purpose it points the individual to a place beyond themselves, and creates in that person the sense that they are being pulled, drawn, or called in that direction.

Proper ritual juxtaposes the past and the future, it holds the ancestral memory in tension with future expectations.

When the rites are well executed it creates a space in which the whole community is moved by contact with the cynergenic field. They enter the nous sphere, and they transcend themselves and become one.

These are the essential building blocks of group identity and with their perfection came the ability to pull all the disparate parts of human culture together.

Nations were formed out of states, building on the foundations of security and prosperity for the people.

The old allegiances of family, tribe and clan were shifting ever-outward, away from people, into the world of ideas.

The fundamental buildings blocks of human identity were changing. Their National identity transcended their sense of themselves as a member of a family, and even as individuals.
Emergence 4.0
Part Three, Earth

Chapter Twenty, Collective
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Three, Earth; Chapter Nineteen, Consciousness

Week 20

Birth is concrescence, the coalescence of matter organizing itself into a unique form. Birth is the quest of consciousness, the cognizant being emerging independent and alone, ready to observe the universe as an individuated node of self-hood.

Each instance of birth is the beginning of a series of reflections made by the universe, on itself, for itself. The relative length of those reflections is not germane. The only thing that matters is that they are made.

The bare witness is enough.

Not all life is capable of making these reflections.

Most life in the universe is silent, vegetative, passive; algae and fungus, plankton, and moss, grasses, and trees, bacteria and the ubiquitous virus, these life forms are most prevalent than any other. They mark a certain-narrow range of activity taking place in their environment, on their individual planets, orbiting their individual stars.

The animate life of fish and insect, of reptile and avian, of mammal, these life forms are rare. These animate beings see and do more, feel more than the vegetation they consume as food. But, until the discovery of Earth, there was only one world in the entire galaxy where it was known for life to have evolved into sapient creature, into creatures that learned to see beyond themselves, projecting images of themselves, of their hopes and fears and possible futures into the great beyond.

The Ancient People, who constructed the Continuum, they were the first, and until their colonists reached Earth, they thought they were the only one.

The human, homo sapient sapient; like every other organic being, is beset with the inherent biases of the animal brain.

The glands of the brain pump chemicals into the liquid consciousness of its neural net.

Strong emotions are generated here.

We are awash in them.

The animal brain is fearful. It is concerned with the most basic things; pleasure, pain, anger, fear.

It is inherently suspicious, having risen out of the world where the law of life is eat or be eaten.

It wants to regard every other creature as either a threat, or as food, as something to be exploited.

These tendencies rule the creature, and the search for safety.

This is not to say that human beings, and other creatures are not capable of learning trust, they can and they do, but trust is a learned behavior.

The tendency to see every other being in oppositional terms is never completely erased.

Otherness, alienation, these feelings are in constant tension with the supernal drive that is necessary to advance culture.

The rudiments of language are warnings.

Sirens and alarms link directly into the limbic system: fight or flight.

In times of plenty these feelings become less pronounced, they become easier to set aside.

In times of scarcity they rise immediately into the control centers of the brain, and generations of cultural conditioning that came to mitigate those responses can be erased in moments.

Even the human being, The homo sapient sapient, the animal with the most advanced neural net, even that creature will quickly fall into extremes of genocidal killing and cannibalism, when scarcity and fear, starvation and war, or other threatening circumstances come to dominate human consciousness. This is true whether the threat is real, or simply imagined.

There is a brief period of time for every mammal, when they are in the warmth and dark of the womb, a short time when they are one with another, their mother.

It is a time of total dependency.

Two hearts beating in the same body, sharing the same flow of blood, of oxygen. They are in a state of complete cynergy.

The father contributes a piece of the code for the formation of the new being, but that is it, the father merely influences the design.

The mother gives the child everything.

This does not end at birth.

The child travels with the mother in the warmth and dark of the womb for nine month, through genesis, formation and growth.

It learns the low tone of the mother’s voice, her rhythm of speaking, of moving, of singing.

The newborn infant takes all of its sustenance, either from the mother’s breast, or from the mother’s hand in the ultimate form of belonging to another.

The child travels with her everywhere, or desires to. There is no place safer, no greater feeling of security than to be placed against her flesh, in the blanket of her scent, to feel her voice resonate through her body.

Everyone else in the world is an alien, potentially hostile, a threat…except for mother.

There is no one more frightening than the father.

Stranger, protector, arbiter of conflict; a father is the first person the child seeks to bond with after separating from the mother.

The father is stern and foreboding.

For most tribes of early humans, as they migrated across the planet, the father was the ultimate authority, holding the power of life and death over his family and able to exercise it any time. There were few checks on his authority.

The child seeks to bond with, to understand, to contend with, and to please him.

In times when the actual father is not present, the child will find a surrogate and seek adoption.

The way in which the relationship develops between the child and father determines virtually everything about who the child will become in the eyes of the world.

The father imparts the public persona to the child, and the child carries that persona, like it does the fathers name, throughout its life and in the world.

Good or bad, the influence of the father is imparted to the child like an indelible mark.

Everything the father does, or does not do matters. Active or passive, present or absent, the role the father plays in the child’s life shapes them. None of the father’s words, none of his gestures, not a single touch, or glace occurs in a vacuum.

The child absorbs it all. Everything done and left undone is determinative of who the child will become, and the esteem they will experience in the world.

We are each of us a reflection of the image the father projects on us, not a perfect facsimile but a living representation of the intentions and wishes of the patriarch.

After the mother and father, our sisters and brothers are the first people with whom they share a common bond, and with whom we compete.

We identify with our siblings, discover betrayal through them, experience them as a threat, and learn from them both how to love and how to forgive.

The human capacity for empathy is refined through our relationships with our siblings. Having first learned to love them, we are able to extend that compassion to others.

If we learn to hate them, be jealous of them, covet their place in the world, then by extension we are able to project those same feelings onto anyone.

Human history is replete with the stories of siblings, accomplishing great things together, and allowing their rivalries to destroy them.

Cain slew able, he killed him with a stone.

Romulus killed Remus, he cast his brother from the walls of Rome, broke his body on the rocks below, a blood-sacrifice for the eternal city.

The duplicity of the human being, our duality, our capacity for selflessness and self-centeredness are demonstrated in these relationships more poignantly than in any other.

A brother or sister will at one moment put their lives at risk to protect their sibling from harm or even the specter of harm, and in another moment plot to take their life and destroy their extended family.

The sibling bond is the strongest of all bonds, apart from the bond the child has with its mother. When the tension is so great that it breaks, the resulting backlash has the potential to scar everyone who is near it.

It is no small thing to reprogram the animal brain, to take the essentially selfish organism and transform it into something new. Suspicious creatures become altruistic only by learning and through experience, through the bonding of the senses and by neural linguistic programming, by ritual and narrative.

The first stage is complete when the individual person comes to see the family as an extension of the self, when they see their well-being, their fate is tied to the fate and the well-being of others, both in this life and the next.

The brain is an evolving structure. It mutates, both over the course of the life of the individual, and by procreation, from generation to generation.

Most of the mutations are not visible or even noticeably structural. They are packed into the dense tissues of the neural network in the brain.

With every new experience a new thread is spun, a thread as thin as a sequence of proteins, and with that the organ of the brain is changed, at the same time the code inside the cells is rewritten, peptides and amino acid redraft the genetic sequence, and the endowment is passed on to succeeding generations, it is a growing inheritence.

The greatest periods of growth and change are infancy and childhood. When every sound and sight, every smell and touch, every taste is actively changing the nascent being, especially at this time when they are learning the language of its family and tribe.

The human being will begin to see the well-being of the family and tribe as being in alignment with their own, identical to it, without regard for the hurts and minor competitions that ensued while growing-up together.

The other becomes one, when this has occurred we will protect those closest to us with a ferocity equal to our own drive for safety, because they have in reality become a recognizable part of who we are, our relationship to them, our memories of them have changed our genetic codes and the physical structure of the brain, both.

Blood and family, they bind us, they may confine us, but they may also set us free.

As we become self-aware we also become “other-aware.” We struggle with the full array of human emotions. We feel the flood of neuro-chemicals and learn to control the mechanae which regulate them. The most significant among them being fear.

Fear lodged deep within the limbic system, in the far reaches of the “reptilian” brain, in the spine and the neural network flowing out from it into our extremities, fear is the great divider, our limitations are founded in it.

We come into the knowledge of self, fearing any and all others, seeing them first as dangerous, as threatening. Every other person we encounter, accept the mother who gave birth to us, who anchors us through our memory of the womb, every other person is a potential adversary, is an actual adversary until we learn to see them in another light

Every person has a different learning curve, a unique capacity for the things of their experience they remember, recall and contextualize.

The acquisition of language gives us a taxonomy, the linguistic tools to understand these differentiations: self, mother, father self, brother, sister, self…it is a code that grows and continues to grow.

It is open ended: self, uncle, aunt, self, cousin, self, offspring, self, niece, nephew, self, spouse, self, friend, self…

It is through kinship, by relating to those whom we believe share our deepest interests that we learn to see strangers as other-selves, even the adversary.

There are language games, there is neuro-linguistic programming in every culture that can force these issues. They combine words and actions, feelings of mystery through rituals of shame, fear and empowerment, which break down barriers, moving a person rapidly through every stage of acceptance in regard to another. Religion, and ritual, military service and shared suffering among them. By passing through these stages a person become fully realized and in possession of their true self.
Emergence 4.0
Part Three, Earth

Chapter Nineteen, Consciousness

A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Three, Earth; Chapter Eighteen, Disaster

Week 19
Yellowstone National Park was a place of awesome-beauty, a landscape of surreal contrasts exploding from the living rock and shifting mountains.

It draws millions of visitors every year to wander its grounds and traverse its trails, including some who are simply driving through

It was a sanctuary for wildlife; a thousand little creatures preserved in their habitat as well as the apex species, the bison and the elk and the wolf who hunted them for food.

Yellowstone was made a National Park in 1872, through a law signed by United States President Ulysses S. Grant, one-hundred and twenty years before they discovered the volcano lurking beneath the fantastical landscape.

Yellowstone was a cradle of life, nested above the most deadly natural feature of planet Earth.

Earth’s molten core burned beneath its thin surface, a cauldron of liquid rock boiling below the mantle, deep inside a vast chamber filled with super-heated and poisonous gasses.

In the park, the most popular features for tourists, beside the landscape itself, were the hot springs, the bubbling waters and high flying geysers that blasted off with incredible regularity.

Heat from deep within the earth created these phenomenon. It melted exotic minerals in the waters, giving them bright, colorful and psychedelic trappings.

Some of the pools were so toxic and acidic they could melt the flesh off a person’s bones in seconds.

Changes in the pattern and timing of these geysers gave the tell to the monitors, that the Catastrophe was approaching, but it was too late.

The scientists of Earth only noticed the volcanic activity when the mountains surrounding Yellowstone Park began to lift.

They noticed a change of several centimeters over hundreds of square of miles of mountain range, between the newly conducted surveys and the surveys that had been taken a hundred years earlier.

At first they thought that there must have been a problem with the original surveil, but they ruled out that possibility in short order. The science of surveying was well established at the time they were originally done, even the equipment that a person would use to make those calculations had not changed much in the intervening decades.

The math was the math and it was sound.

It took the best geologists among them years to figure it out, that the changes were actually caused by geological uplift. The understanding of what that meant, its implications, took even more years to complete. They had to change their perspective significantly, they had to look at the area of uplift with satellite imagery and that is when they noticed that the entire Yellowstone Park was a massive volcano.

Even then, they did not know how significant the problem was.

Geologists from across the country began to study the park in minute detail. Looking at every strata of rock they could see exposed in the surfaces of the surrounding mountains, measuring, and re-measuring, and through their diligence they discovered the long cycles between eruptions of this killer volcano.

A six-hundred thousand year cycle, a cycle of planetary doom.

When they knew what features to look for, they discovered other such volcanos around the world. They discovered the volcano in Indonesia that last erupted seventy-four thousand years ago.

The Earth’s volcanologists, climatologists, and geophysicists weighed in. It was a small cabal of people. They correlated data from arctic ice core samples, soil samples, tree ring samples. They began to understand just how devastating an eruption of a volcano this size could be.

They were just beginning to understand it.

They were hoping it would not erupt in their lifetime.

Those hopes were in vain, the entire planet was under threat, no-one was safe.

There was a rumbling.

The seismographs told the tale.

They had been graphing it for years, but disbelief had crept into the analysis. The story was blacked out, even as the tar in the roads cutting through Yellowstone, above the volcano began to melt, cracking from the heat and the top researches on the site resigned to protest of the deliberate misinformation campaign the government waged to keep people in the dark.

The government knew the disaster was coming. They just could not be sure when. It might not happen in their lifetime, or it might happen tomorrow. It was an impossible thing for them to plan.

Those who understood the nature of the problem, and those who did not quite get it, they were all together in the same web of uncertainty, making the laypersons view as valid as the expert.

It was a quiet day in the great park.

Yellowstone was always quiet.

Deep beneath the earth something was happening. Pressure was building. Molten rock was bubbling, rushing into the great chamber.

The wildlife in the nature preserve sensed it first, birds took off with their entire flocks. Bison fled in droves. The wolf and the fox and the coyote followed them, all creatures great and small sought a path of escape.

Most of the humans looked on, befuddled.

A few knew what this meant, or believed they did. They sounded the warning. Some of them were alarmists, they were perceived as people who were always ringing the bell, Chicken Littles crying out, The Sky is Falling!

It ended up in the news of the weird.

Few of the researches fled the park, the all knew it was hopeless.

They wanted to see their families, perhaps one last time before it was all over. Those who could did, those who couldn’t opened bottles of Champagne and toasted the end of the world.

Their life’s work was now complete.

The survivalists retreated to their shelters, basking in the esteem of vindication.

They were being proved right.

Every living thing on Earth, above ground or in the air heard the explosion.

Everything, even the most remote creature in the deepest ocean, felt the blast.

Every creature walking or standing, stumbled and fell as the planet lurched, shuddered and shifted on its axis.

Fault lines cracked open, leaping a thousand years forward in the space of seconds.

It was a massive upheaval, it was turmoil on an unimaginable scale.

Skyscrapers came crashing down in cities around the world, as the continental plates groaned and twisted.

Planes and low orbiting satellites fell from the sky.

Chaos followed quickly upon the sound wave.

The desperate prayers of the dying-faithful rose up to greet it.

In security centers around the world the most astute military planners knew what had happened. Nevertheless, they were utterly bewildered by the scope and the magnitude of the devastation.

The level of instantaneous destruction was beyond any of their calculations, the collateral damage to geological and hydrological systems was not anything that anyone had conceived of.

Communications were down around the globe.

Nuclear reactors were off line and began melting down.

Tsunamis were rising in the shallow seas.

It was the end of the world.

It had been over six hundred and forty thousand years since the last massive eruption of the great North American volcano, six hundred and forty thousand years of pressure had been building.

Volcanoes erupted around the world all the time.

There were other smaller volcanoes of this type in other places.

The only witness to the last event was, who had been there seventy-four thousand years ago, when the last massive caldera blew.

The Indonesia volcano nearly wiped out the human race. It reduced a population of millions to just a few thousand. That volcano, while one of the largest on Earth, was only a tenth the size of the monster in Yellowstone.

When the Yellowstone Caldera blew, the Earth shook, the entire planet felt the rumble. The magnetic poles reversed, the world shifted on its axis, and wobbled in its orbit.

The stars, when they became visible again, would never look the same.

None of the scientists, the geologists and seismologists, none of them had any idea just how much power would be expelled when the eruption finally came.

None of them had long to contemplate their error.

If they had known they might have tried to do something about it, even in consideration of the risks. They might have tried to ease the pressure from the sleeping giant, but they never had a chance.

Life would certainly reestablish itself. New species would emerge. Some humans would survive, but they would all be changed.

Even still, the planet was doomed, its orbit was altered, and that alone spelled the end of the line for Earth.

Ashshot in to the stratosphere and fell back to the ground, burying North America in poisonous dust.

Clouds of fine particles and streams of deadly gases blanketed the entire world, blocking all light from the sun.

Within days nearly every living creature on the face of the earth was dead.

Those that survived were the most determined.

There were many who had readied for some kind of doomsday. They had prepared for nuclear war, an alien invasion, a zombie apocalypse, but not this.

A majority of those survivalists either died in the preliminary blast, and the subsequent correlated upheavals of the chaos that ensued.

Many died trying to reach their secret bunkers while roads became impassable, they were buried in the fallout.

Nevertheless, there were many who did make it.

Many who had sequestered themselves in hidden enclaves, in secret compounds. Some of them worked together.

For them, their stores of food needed to last years beyond the decades they had planned for. It would take that long for the sun to reappear, longer still for farming to be possible.

Human beings quickly became their own worst enemy.

Outsiders became foodstuff.

Cannibalism set in, as it always did, and quickly as it always did in times of crises.

It was, once again, the end of civilization.

The human race had faced this before, it was difficult, nearly impossible, but they had an Observer helping them in the past, they had Jim.

They made it through.

This time there would be no rescue, no wisdom from beyond, no help of any kind.

Volcanic eruptions of this magnitude were the prime movers of planetary evolution. Even the oceans were not immune from the fallout. All organic matter on the surface of Earth perished, becoming just another layer of clay. An event like this was a crucible, even more so in the present time than it had been in the past.

What was taking place in this iteration of the evolutionary cycle was something brand new. The biological evolution would take place as it had hundreds of times before in the history of the planet. In this cycle, however, a cognitive evolution was taking place at the same time, an evolution of the group consciousness, it was a designed evolution, it had been carefully planned by Jim, over the past seventy thousand years.

It was intended, and it meant that the human being who survived would have transcended into a brand new state of being.

There coming would change the Empire in the far reaches of the galaxy.

Half of the world’s population perished within days of the blast, most of the rest in the weeks, and months that followed.

By the end of the year, without intervention, the number of human being living on Earth would be down to a few thousand, or less.

Every species was affected; mammal, reptile, avian, insect. Those living on land were hurt the worst. There was widespread extinction. Entire ecosystems were just gone. Only nature’s apex survivors would continue; the crocodile, the turtle, and the frog.

Coastal areas provided recourse for the survivor. There were fish, there was water, there was mobility and there was power.

But it would take decades before the poisons were filtered from the atmosphere, all mammalian life would change as a result, but life would endure on the other side.
Emergence 4.0
Part Three, Earth
Chapter Eighteen, Disaster
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Three, Earth; Chapter Seventeen, Volcano

Week 18

Most of the people in the world had no knowledge of the threat posed by the Yellowstone volcano, even though the information concerning it was available to them through the public domain.

It was on the internet, there had been many documentaries filmed concerning it.

The earliest documentaries, were the most truthful and the most disturbing.

The science, which was relatively new, revealed that the last event covered the world in ash, blocked out the light of the sun, and reduced the total population of the human race to just a few thousand. Tree ring samples, ice core samples, rock stratification and genetic mapping all proved it, to a degree of statistical certainty that could not be ignored.

Yet, people did.

After airing for a decade and raising the level of alarm, newer productions began to slip miss-information into the narrative. This eased public apprehension about the dilemma, while doing nothing in the way of preparing people for it.

The United States Geological Service (U.S.G.S.), closely monitored the volcano, aided by several nearby universities. They began to monitor it as soon as they realized what they had discovered.

They were hungry for information.

Seismographs were deployed, and in time the vast magma dome at the epicenter was mapped out through global positioning systems, satellite tracking that measured uplift and deformation of the surface of the caldera at its weakest point, with enough sensitivity to track even a centimeter of change

In the early days this information was available to the public, but after a year of intense geological activity at the site of the volcano, the crucial and most informative data became restricted.

Then, the eruption came without warning.

It shook the world, throwing it off its axis.

Ash and gas poured into the upper atmosphere, covering everything in a poisonous cloud, hiding the survivors from the face of the sun.

There was no safety anywhere.

When Jim first came to Earth in the centuries before the first volcanic cataclysm that he witnessed, seventy-four thousand years ago, he found the human family and found that it was very small. There were just a few million people spread out across the globe, their culture had devolved, but they were thriving and recovering their footing.

After the eruption of the volcano in Indonesia, the human family was reduced to just a couple of thousand people. Their extinction was looming, they were starving and suffering, living without hope.

Jim starved with them, suffered with them, journeyed with them to places of shelter, water, food, and warmth.

He lived as one of them through the dark days, through the decades when the sun was blotted from the sky, when the air was full of ash, and poison.

Death was everywhere, disease, malnutrition, exposure, the ordinary challenges facing any given tribe, but other human tribes were the greatest threat.

He had some ability to influence the tribes he was with, to keep them from committing the most ghastly crimes, the hunting of other humans for food, crimes of cannibalism.

He only had access to limited technology. His satellite network was still rudimentary, and it did not have the ability to surveille the entire world, but he used it to maximum effect.

There were many tribes that he was not able to reach, those that went underground to escape the deadly air, consequently, those tribes experienced the greatest corruption of their identity and values, and they would plague the rest of humanity for millennia to come.

Jim activated the cloning systems on his orbiting platform.

He bifurcated his consciousness and sent replicas of himself to dwell with every tribe he could find. This was a violation of his directive as an Observer, but that did not matter to him, he was intent on seeing the people through this disaster and rebuilding their communities once again.

Now everything was in process.

Jim had studied the living planet, which he now belonged to, with tools surpassing the greatest assets of any geophysicist on Earth.

The Planet held no mysteries for him.

He had known about the life cycle of this caldera for millennia, and every other volcano on Earth’s unstable surface as well.

He was determined not to be taken by surprise, and there could be no strategy without knowledge.

The humans of Earth had discovered the caldera a mere forty years earlier. There science had only given them knowledge of plate tectonics a short one hundred years before that.

It was a scientific age, but only for a small segment of human civilization. They had barely begun to understand the atom and the genome, and yet they were quick to adapt their new-found knowledge into weapons, and other useful tools.

Fifty years after their first flight in a small wooden craft, they constructed a rocket made of the lightest alloys that propelled them to the moon, where they were able to land safely and return.

It was only when the heat beneath the super-volcano was discovered, only because the found that it was pushing an entire mountain range upward into the sky, were they able to understand the geological forces at work beneath the beautiful and grand oasis that was Yellowstone Park.

Through his observation and the power of his instruments, Jim was able to calculate to the second when the volcano would blow. He wanted to intervene, but he was forbidden.

The Continuum decided it would do nothing.

It knew that life on Earth would be devastated yet again, but it craved the drama that this would produce, it wanted to watch the human race re-emerge once more from the ashes.

The scientists, and their cadres of college students, research assistants, whose job it was to watch the monster volcano, inevitably became inured to the subtle changes they recorded. They monitored the changes and warning signs in a way that was reminiscent of watching a person’s hair grow. While they gathered data they had no means of correlating them to actual events.

As sweeping as the observations they made were, which were as comprehensive as was technologically possible, the data they gathered had no predictive value, because every day was a new day in a completely unknown experience.

There was a deformation of the dome, over hundreds of square miles, there were earthquakes, boiling water in lakes and streams; something big growing below the surface, and they were for the most part, un-phased by it.

There were occasions when activity would spike so sharply that it seemed as if the moment had come, but, after reliving those cycles dozens of times, even the occasional spike became a relatively commonplace event.

Doomsday cults sprang up around the world predicting the imminent end of life on Earth, pointing to the volcano as the instrument of God’s wrath, God’s judgement, the coming of Ragnorak or the return of Kali.

They were not wrong, insofar as the myths of Ragnorak and Kali originated with the last great eruption, but of course there was nothing personal about these events.

It was just geology, there was no divine wrath or judgement at all.

God had no purpose in it, only Jim did.

The doomsayers, spoke to something that everyone knew was true. Every person alive carried the memory of the last event deep within them, and their fears about future catastrophes resonated in the cynergenic field. The collective consciousness of the human race knew that something was happening. It was disturbed, but it did not know by what.

There were documentaries about the volcano, television shows detailing what was known about its history, its cycles, its potential for global destruction, and the relative certainty of the impending doom.

The most prominent scientific journals published articles about it. Those stories made their way into popular publications as well.

There was a lot of information available about the volcano. Nevertheless, few people were aware of the danger.

Those who knew about it, were forced by the rules of statistics to tell themselves “it could happen today, or it could happen in ten thousand years.” This was a true assessment, it represented sound reasoning. They were measuring unknown capacities against geological time. Making it impossible to gauge where an event might happen that took place in a six hundred thousand year cycle.

In the second decade after its discovery, when the reality of the danger that the volcano represented finally made its way into the National Security threat assessment. The information flow coming from the scientific observatories began to change.

Public access to raw data was cut off. Everything about the volcano was filtered, cast in terms of potentials and probabilities, even matters that were well known, established, and certain.

Misinformation leaked into the public sphere every day as the explosion neared. The government decided that there was nothing it could do about the monster beneath Yellowstone Park, therefore they would do nothing, and they decided to work against a state of public panic instead.

They would deal with the aftermath, when the volcano erupted. They would position their forces to take advantage of the catastrophe on a global scale.

This was the only end they could hope to achieve.

Jim’s plan required the most delicate timing and meticulous preparation, it was a precarious endeavor. It came down to seconds, and those final seconds were everything.

The volcano buried beneath Yellowstone would destroy human civilization, but it would catalyze the preservation of humanity itself. A few people would live, but all would be saved through Kathy.

She was the vessel that he had spent thousands of years cultivating. She was ready and he knew it.

The cataclysm would change the Collective forever, the galactic Empire as well, it would destroy the Continuum, and replace it with a new consciousness, one endowed with a fully actualized and transcendent morality, or so Jim believed.

Jim had spent lifetimes building the institutions, and years putting all the right people in place, cultivating relationships of trust, bribing and coercing when he had to. He made sure that there were no obstacles in Kathy’s path, and that she was prompted to take each step that would lead her to the crucible at the precise moment.

She must be in position at the exact second the cataclysm occurred.

The final hours and minutes he was with her allowed him to put a psychic hold on her. This did not give him the ability to control her, or to determine anything.

It was a push, he gave her some momentum and set her on course.

He had established the relationships, with key people to push her further, to get her in the right place at the right time.

There were plans within plans, and contingencies for everything.

His greatest work depended on Kathy, depended on her openness to discovery, her instinct for safety and her genuine care for other people.

There is no fate.

There is no divine hand governing the movement of the stars.

Nothing is predetermined, but there are certainties, there are statistical inevitabilities.

The eruption of volcanoes is among them. They are the result of geological forces that cannot be stopped.

With sufficiently advanced technology, such forces can be harnessed, controlled, used for the benefit of the people.

There was nowhere, no planet in the great galactic Empire that did not have access to these resources.

Earth was alone, floating by itself in the far reaches of the spiral arm of the galaxy. It was an isolated backwater, hundreds of light years from the nearest Imperial outpost.

Earth did not have the resources of other worlds in the Empire, it had no knowledge of the Empire, and the Continuum would not allow it to possess one.

The disaster on Earth could have been mitigated, it could have been used for the advancement of human civilization, but their technology had not develop enough along, they were perhaps a century away from being able to manage these eventualities on their own, without technological aid.

The end of humanity hung there. It was suspended in the balance between the apathy of the Continuum and the fascination of the Collective.

The Collective loved every moment of the feed streaming from Earth, they were hungry for the music, the art, the culture, the intensity of its conflicts.

The Continuum wanted to see the whole thing crushed, set back, and controlled.

Emergence 4.0
Part Three, Earth

Chapter Seventeen, Volcano

A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Three, Earth; Chapter Sixteen, Existence

Emergence 4.0

Part Three, Earth
Chapter Sixteen, Existence
Week 17
The flesh remembers, it never forgets.

The record of our experiences are pounded into our corporeal form, cell by cell.

Our bodies are a living witness to the events that shape us, handing down that narrative from generation to generation in perpetuity.

We are changed by every new experience, each moment of perception is a new thread sewn into the seams of our identity. These are the fibers of the spindle, they are the engrams of memory, protein by protein they are woven into the fabric of our lives.

Our unique and individual experiences are like a tapestry, sewn with precious metals, embroidered with gem-stones, they are an endowment from us, a rich heritage passed on to our descendants.

It is their only lasting inheritance, laid on the table like a convivial feast.

We experience this in our dreaming, when we are transported to places and times that we know we have never been to, never seen, and yet they are as familiar to us as the contents of our own homes. When we talk with strangers as if they were our dearest friends, and see ourselves reflected in a mirror, but we do not recognize our countenance or visage.

The flesh never forgets, it remembers everything.

The Ancient race of spacefarers were bipeds. They stood on two feet just as the humans of Earth would in their time.

The longer the Ancient colonists remained on their journey among the stars, the more they adapted their physiology to the unique exigencies of their vessel. In the case of the group that eventually landed on Earth, they learned to adapt themselves to conditions of near weightlessness.

The conditions of deep space altered the function of their limbs and digits, of their muscles and skeletons.

In anticipation of coming to Earth they began to alter their physiology again, altering it with intention, reconstructing the things that they had lost.

They transformed, as much as they could back to the form that was the closest approximation to what they had originally been.

They prepared once again to stand on two feet.

The interactive relationship between the creature; the animal and its body with its environment determined the spectrum of its consciousness.

Standing against the pull of gravity, under the weight of Earth’s atmosphere, balancing and pivoting on a central axis, walking and dancing, these differentiated human beings from every other creature.

It was with their heads held high and faces lifted to the sun, that the first colonists moved across the surface of their new world.

There were many changes yet to come, augmentations and enhancements for their safety and security.

They knew that they would not be leaving Earth any time soon, they had to prepare themselves to rule it, as the apex species on a planet filled with predators.

They landed under the auspices of a simple rule.

They had to adapt to survive.

Talking was the basis of sharing every advanced idea, and had been since the earliest days of the Ancient People.

Talking was the precursor to writing, and through the written language the secrets of the universe were cracked open.

Talking; the verbal sharing of ideas, feelings, and perceptions, shared through aural communications in waves of sound, listening, hearing in stereo; this mode of transmission is deliberate, slow and luxuriant compared to the speed of light at which visual and digital communications takes place.

The slowness of speech was dumbfounding to the Continuum, many potential Observers were washed out of the program because they could not adjust to this reality.

Neither sound waves, nor light waves could come anywhere close in comparison to the instantaneous transfer of thought in the quantum field.

In the field of quantum entanglement, communication could happen in no-time.

Sound was slow and intimate, the only thing more sensuous was touch.

The sounds of voice are waves crashing through whole body, not just the auditory canal.

To listen to the voice is to listen to the breath, to feel the living intention of the speaker, your dialog partner, adding depth and meaning to every insight they intend to impart.

It is relational, it imparts a sense of belonging.

The embodied voice calls us back to the primordial time before the species knew anything of the stars, when we were just amphibians crying out for company, bellowing peels of warning, singing by the breeding pools in the night.

Bands of light cross the full spectrum, piercing organic lenses from corner to corner.

One-hundred and eighty degrees, light reflecting off every object in the binocular field of vision, light and shadow refracting in a broad array of color, captured through the lens in its rods and cones.

Neuro-receptors in the brain flip the images around, creating the perception of depth by which we determine distance and find our way through the three dimensions of space.

The broad spectrum of vision is vital to the human being, even in its limited range. Other animals see farther, other animals see in a different arc, other animals see more and less color, other animals see in a different spectrum of light.

Some animals have ultra-vision, some have infra vision, specialized optics in relation to the things they hunt and furrow for.

The human eye is powerful, it takes in a wide range of each of those possible fields, coordinating them for great effect.

The human species did not evolve to hunt and gather with its sight, or to favor one sense over any other, neither did the Ancient People from which it sprang.

For the human animal, sight and the other physical senses were merely inputs for the mind. The mind was the vehicle by which the human being stalked its prey, gathered its forage, planted, sewed, and came to the harvest.

The field of vision that the human being possessed was adequate to the task. Coupled with the brain, the healthy eye could discern and interpret images, it could accurately identify objects that it could not clearly see. This was an advantage that no other species on the planet possessed.

The human mind augmented everything.

The brain was split in two. The architecture of the hemispheric brain provided a cognitive override. If the messages from the brain stem flooded the organ with fear, desire, or any other strong feeling, the force of it was divided between the two halves.

This allowed for a fraction of a moment of distance to develop between the individual and the event that generates the feeling. A moment when choice was possible, and the individual could act apart from the coercive effect of the external stimuli.

The human being was split down the middle, left for right and right for left.

It was an organic duality.Cognitive function were split between the two hemispheres as well. Mathematical, categorical, statistical functions to one side of the brain, while the boundary spanning, rule breaking, artistic and unorthodox functions occupied the other half of the brain.

It was symbiosis.

The hemispheres of the brain were not distinct. They were conjoined by a network, a wetwork of fibers, the tiniest of organic structures, not much larger than a chain of protein molecules, and it was electric.

The nano-particles in the neural net allowed each individual to be connected through Earth’s electromagnetic field at the quantum level.

In the quantum field there was all knowledge and the fullness of humanity.

In this cognitive space all human achievements were the property of the whole; every triumph and every tragedy.

The past and the present were one

The human being was one, even in light of its inherent duality.

The human body is water.

Metaphors of fluidity permeate the human consciousness.

The surface of earth is mostly water, and in times of great crises the surface of the waters, and the deep-deep places, were the places where human beings returned to for refuge, safety and sustenance.

Oceans, and lakes, and rivers provided everything

The body needs water, as it needs oxygen to fill the lungs, to fill the blood cells racing through its veins and arteries, coursing into tissues.

There is no greater pain than thirst, and the unquenched desire is the thirst that leads to death.

Metaphors linking dryness to anguish, to pain and suffering fill the human imagination.

To thirst is to know that the end is near.

Thirst will drive the average person mad with the knowledge that death is approaching and the end of the body is at hand.

When thirst is great enough, a person will turn to any source of liquid, even liquids they know to be poisoned, in order to slake it.

Thirst is a drive. It is the greatest motivator, greater than hunger, greater than joy.

The thirsty person will do anything, sacrifice anything.

Thirst will cause a person to give up what they hold sacred, even their own identity.

The whole body is a cognitive organ, not just the brain, the cerebellum, or the cerebral cortex.

The body senses and it remembers.

The body writes memory into the genetic code of the individual, in sequences of peptides and amino acids. It writes them into the DNA.

We pass those memories onto our offspring.

We are born with the knowledge of our ancestors built onto the fabric of our being.

The whole being is contained in the tiniest part, in the nucleus of every cell. It pushes us forward, it is a chemical drive feeding the quantum field of creativity, a neural net rooted in organic chemistry.

It is a constant interchange of the analog with the digital.

We are a duality.

Just as the human being processes external stimuli through the brain, where chemical sequences are translated into electrical signals, in a tightly choreographed exchange that take place a billions of times per second. So does the human being function as a small piece of the larger-cynergenic world.

Every human being is an organic node. An individual interfacing with the quantum field that comprises the whole.

We experience these dualities within ourselves; individual experience and inherited experience, individual mind and collective mind.

We experience these dualities, but we do so on the unconscious level, very few people ever become aware of the greater reality that they are a part of.

It is on this dual framework that we launch ourselves into the full realization of who we are.
Emergence 4.0
Part Three, Earth

Chapter Sixteen, Existence

A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Three, Earth; Chapter Fifteen, Observation

Week 16
After the Indonesia eruption, during the time that Jim was gathering the people together, while he was forming them into enduring tribes, subtle changes began to take shape in the social and cultural traditions of the people.

They drew pictures in the soil with sticks to narrate their journeys, and chart their path of progress.

They understood the world in terms of images.

They were post literate.

They carved their hopes and fears into stones, and the faces of cliffs, in places that became semi-permanent homes. Generations of members would work on a single carving, the task being handed down from mother to daughter, and father to son.

In those carvings Jim could see the echoes of their memories of their previous sojourn among the stars.

Those memories lingered, they were intense.

Jim began to isolate the physical link that joined the current generation to its past in their genetic profile.

The stories they told about that time were confused and entangled with their current journey through the dark.

They mixed colors and painted, projecting images of the future they desired on cave walls, both the things they wanted, hoped for; food and water, and wanted more to avoid; a short life, a dangerous animal, an encounter with a stronger tribe.

They were overwhelming concerned with safety and security.

They depicted things no one living had ever seen, the memory of which they carried in their genes. Those images became stylized and fantastic, and in those stories, they made their ancestors into gods.

The music of the people, the drums they beat, the rhythms they made, they pushed the stories of each tribe, each family, deep into the memory of its members.

Drums and rhythm these operated as a visceral reinforcement of the memories that the human tribes passed down from one generation to the next.

It changed them on the genetic level, setting up successive generations to recall them, relive them, to transform those stories into a part of their being.

Jim played to this phenomenon, he avidly worked to eradicate any form of written narrative.

He succeeded.

Every tribe developed its own oral tradition. Stories were handed down from master to pupil.

Paintings and images, sculptures, these became objects of religious ritual and devotion. People only engaged in their creation with careful attention.

Music was the heart of the people.

Each tribe found its own interpretation of the musical scale. They developed their own drums, their own pipes and horns and instruments made of string.

This was a great science.

The exchange of music between cultures was often met with alarm, and fear.

All music was recognizable as music. But the form that it could take, the beat, the measure, the timing, the tonal quality, these could create significant psychic disturbances in people when they heard an alien scale for the first time.

For thousands of years Jim worked to exasperate those differences, before finally bringing them together. The result were new traditions of overwhelming beauty and complexity. Which not only captivated human audiences, but enthralled the Collective as well.

It was a grand orchestration.

Even before the eruption 72,000 years ago, the culture of these children of the Ancient People, the culture of the humans of Earth had devolved.

They had fallen from star-farer to cave dweller.

Yet their cultures retained a faint memory of its ancestry. The memory of the stars they had crossed had been preserved through the stories they told, and in the engrams of memory encoded in their cells.

For Jim, it was precious little to build on.

He was determined to modify their genetic profile in such a way that it could boost the organic memory retention of their bodies as much as possible.

Jim engineered in himself a bifurcation of consciousness.

In the satellite station far above the planet, he housed the full version of himself hosted in the mechanoid body that travelled with him to Earth.

That consciousness was connected to hundreds of living vessels, versions of himself living on the planet surface doing the work he had set out to do among the people. This was an extreme violation of the conventions.

He was in fact only permitted one organic body.

Over time, he received the materials from the Empire to build a space station. On that station he was able to carry out experiments, to perform the science that would allow him to carry out the augmentations both in himself and the human race that he needed.

There were a myriad of steps to climb for him to accomplish his goals with the inhabitants of Earth, and numerous channels to cross.

Jim slowly, methodically plotted his course and followed it, adjusting only when it was necessary.

Step by step and generation by generation he introduced the genetic changes he required into the breeding pool.

Modern humans emerged from these processes.

During their sojourn to Earth, the children of the Ancients determined what their physical needs would be, long before they arrived at their new home they began to make those changes.

They had identified Earth as a suitable place to end their journey, even while they were still light years away.

At that time they still possessed the scientific knowledge to carry out the task of altering their physiology in order that they might align themselves with the gravity and atmosphere of the distant planet.

They began to mutate their DNA, altering their genetic structure, allowing them to inhabit, and thrive on the wet-blue world.

Destination Earth, it was their last hope for a home and haven.

Over the course of generations they adapted to those new requirements, doing their best to anticipate what their bodies would now require, which they based on a climate and ecology that they could only model through computer algorithms.

It was a process of continual adjustment.

Every time a new genetic sequence would be introduced into the body, they ran the risk of a virus springing up, some of them were lethal.

Many of the colonists were struck down in this process. It was an ongoing tragedy, and while they had prepared for it, it was painful nonetheless. It called for a continuous examination of conscience. It focused the crew on the existential dilemma they all shared.

Some of them wanted to abandon their mission altogether, and simply direct their vessel into the nearest star, bringing an end to all of them in one great conflagration.

The technologies they depended on, which were also the cause of their transformation and eventual triumph, those technologies began to be shunned.

Change begets change, in a never ending cycle.

From one point in time to another, nothing is ever the same. This is true, no matter how finely you measure the distance between points.

Everything is changing.

The Ancient Spacefarers became humanity.

Once they arrived in orbit around their new world, a slow metamorphosis took place.

A new gene was introduced, for their final transformation.

Their contact with the Earth’s bio-sphere presented challenges they had never encountered before.

Life on earth was aggressive.

Through a constant exposure to viruses and bacteria their genetic constitution became compromised.

At the most basic level they converged with the native life of Earth.

They became a new people, the belonged to each other and to their new planet entirely.

This took time. It took many thousands of years, and by the time the transformation was complete, they had lost much of the knowledge of who they were, of where they came from, and the technology they had brought them here.

Their triumphal achievement was the root of their undoing.

They left the markers of each change they had instituted in their genetic profile as a road map for Jim to follow in his own breeding program.

When Jim arrived on Earth, he was surprised and bewildered by what he found. Nowhere else in all of the Empire had such a massive cultural devolution occurred. He had barely begun to put the story together before the cataclysm occurred, changing everything for him, and for humanity.

Jim decided at that moment on a course of action that he had long contemplated.

With the gene pool having been reduced to just a few thousand individuals he knew that he had the opportunity to improve on the genetic structure of the whole.

He plotted the future development of the species and began to work out the steps and permutations that he would be looking for as the new species developed over time.

Changes in cognition were the most crucial thing for him to accomplish, along with broadening their access to their genetic memory.

With subtle interventions from Jim, the human brain slowly mutated, retaining properties that were key to the things that he had been dreaming about for a billion years.

He built an inherent capacity to store nanoparticles of key heavy metals, like magnetite, and lithium in the cerebral structure.

Receptors emerged in the organic mind, attenuating the higher order thought processes to the Earth’s magnetic fields.
He established a cynergy between every human being alive, turning the entire planet into a field for cognitive development.

In this way humanity became connected, in the nous-sphere, a collective unconscious emerged. It was atavistic, and unlike any symbiosis that had ever been achieved anywhere else in the galaxy, with the exception of the Collective.

On Earth the collective consciousness emerged as a natural property of the human race in a way that allowed it to go unnoticed by the Continuum.

In that moment of triumph Jim had fully actualized the launch phase of his grand ambition.

The existence of the collective unconscious on Earth was the one thing that the Continuum feared, wanted above anything to prevent, and yet it never imagined that it could happen in this way, therefore it could see it, and could never prepare for it.

Few humans were ever aware of the cynergenic field, or that they lived within the dynamics of the nous-sphere, even though everyone felt it.

Until the twentieth century they did not even have the language to describe it.

Everyone was entangled in its cynergism.

The nous-sphere was coterminous with Earth’s electromagnetic field, as such, it permeated all things.

Only a small percentage of human beings were sensitive to it.

If an imbalance in their physiology caused them to retain too great a concentration of the particles that attenuated them to the field, or too small, they struck an improper balance, and they suffered because of it.

It gave some human beings clairvoyant abilities, clairsentience, clairaudience, so called psychic powers, extra sensory perception or telepathy.

Those abilities drove many more human beings to madness, schizophrenia and psychosis.

In order for them to understand it they had to wait for the advent of written language, and thousands of years to pass so that they could share the knowledge of it and come to an understanding.

By then Jim figured it would be to late for the Continuum to do anything about it.
Emergence 4.0
Part Three, Earth

Chapter Fifteen, Observation

A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

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Emergence 3.0 – Epilogue, Collected Parts; Part Three, Transformation

Emergence 3.0
A Novel – In One Page Per Day
Day 360, Wednesday
December 26th, 2018

Epilog: Part Three – Transformation

Everything was mutable, everything was in flux.

Between any one point in the matrix of time and space no matter how small, between any one point in the fabric of reality no matter how large, there is a relationship that can be distinguished.

Every instantiated moment, every potential moment, every actual referent is related to every other.

Everything is one, there is no actual distance between discernable moments.

In the quantum field that the Collective once occupied, the vast construct that the Continuum was formerly master of, time itself was meaningless.

The science of the Continuum had made this acutely obvious, but Kathy discovered that time was meaningless everywhere, the same quantum field undergirded the whole structure of what is.

Kathy’s consciousness filled it in no-time, she slipped beyond the bounds of HomeWorld, she filled the Central system and went beyond it.

She became coterminous with what the Continuum was and so much more as she ushered the fullness of humanity into the Collective sphere helping them to a place of calm, giving each of them what the needed to see, connecting friends to friends, and families to their ancestors.

It was homecoming.

She felt like Joshua crossing the Jordan, leading the people into the land of milk and honey.

It happened in mere moments while Jim was preoccupied with his war, the conflict that had determined so much of his existence.

Kathy saw him there, the entirety of him, both his great spirit and his smallness, in stark relief.

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