Emergence 4.0 – Part Two, The Continuum; Chapter Fourteen, The Collapse

Week 15
The Continuum had a place in time and space. It existed at a specific point (relative to the movement of the galaxy) the members 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.

The HomeWorld was the center of everything that mattered to the Collective, it was their center. It was the place where they existed, the fixed position that tethered them to reality, Home world was the whole of it. As such, the HomeWorld was the singular place in the universe that the Continuum was vested in.

Where the Collective went the Continuum followed.

The Collective viewed the Continuum as an amalgamation of its collective 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. It never had a body, and 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 Collective and their own real past.

It hungered for real experiences, like an organic being hungered for food and water, it was restless for it, and cold for the lack of it.

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

The members of the Collective had once been organic beings, bodily existence and its limitations were ingrained in their perspective, but for a but a tiny handful of the members their memory of it was so remote as to be meaningless.

The recent experiences of that life were now understood as little more than data mapping. A liability they shared with the Continuum.

The Continuum constantly sought confirmation of its 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.

The Continuum believed that it was the reason for the existence of the universe itself, 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.

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 point of view.

The Continuum deeply resented any challenge to its authority or identity.

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

Jim was the only one who saw the machinations of the Continuum for what they were, and knew that the Continuum was self-deluded, irrational, and a monster.

The Continuum was a construct.

It was 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 of the Empire and the Collective to support its delusion of itself.

It shaped in very subtle ways, the milieu within which each member of the Collective lived.

It shaped them to feed its own grandiosity.

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

It structured the 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 greater than a trillion 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, and excepting those who were now lying at rest in the great sleep, or separated materially form the group mind through sequestration.

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 inhabited worlds.

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.

Other members focused on a 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.

Other 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.

Most of the members were preoccupied with the worlds of the Galactic Empire, following the lives of individuals and families, as a normal person might read a book.

The Continuum promised eternal life to its members.

It delivered on that promise, but only in a qualified sense.

The Continuum delivered an eternal existence to each unique personality, it preserved personhood, but there is more to being alive than having a distinct-identity.

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.

To be alive a person must be free, must have autonomy and must have purpose.

Purpose is more than merely possessing a goal or a desire. Purpose is a place 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, linearity and intention. Purpose is momentous, it is placing one foot in front of the other. It 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.

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, required it in fact 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 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 they will have that are determinative of their life.

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 two people, or trillions, the exact parameters of a social organism are relative.

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.

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.

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, complete-organic-whole.

In 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 the Collective wished to be fulfilled, which 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, or they were actual memories recalled from the distant past where all of the members came into existence, as organic beings.

The membership was nevertheless obsessed with the physical needs and wants of people. 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 physical suffering.

Their memory of having escaped the suffering of their own bodies was not sufficient. They required reminders of what suffering looked like, how it tastes and smells, what is sounds like, and above all else how it felt, not just in the body but in the spirit as well.

They were fascinated by the mental and emotional anguish of thirst and starvation. More than anything, they craved 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, if it satiated their hunger.

The Continuum ruled over everything, every known inhabited world; or so it believed. Though it dominated nearly every person in the Empire, it did not control them all.

There was resistance.

Of the trillion persons whose consciousness was housed on the Central Planet, the HomeWorld of the Collective, the majority never left it.

They had abandoned their physical bodies thousands upon thousands of millennia ago, integrating their personalities into the circuitry of the Central Planet, into the quantum field of the vast structure they had created for that purpose; HomeWorld,

They had submitted to its control.

They were the Ancient People, and 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 being of the purest energy.

Those bodies, those lives, those original identities became forgotten, ephemeral and illusionary.

They became the Collective, and together they formed the great society of consciousness known as the Continuum.

Each 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.

They were free to pursue their own interests, whether those interests were directed inward; toward their own private desires, or outward toward the million worlds of the Galactic Empire.

For many members of the Collective, their private realities were a hybridization of the two.

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

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

Emergence 4.0
Part Two, The Continuum

Chapter Fourteen, The Collapse

A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Two, The Continuum Chapter; Thirteen, The Revolutionary

Week 14

Jim wanted to be as far from the Continuum as possible.

Its ordinary machinations filled him with dread and loathing.

He was starving 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.

They were 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.

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

Planet Earth was the end of the line, the end of the 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 when he arrived there in his mechanical body. The fruit of his discovery would be for the Collective, and the Continuum alone.

Jim settled in, and watched the culture that had emerged from the last remnant of lost children of the Ancient Explorers.

When Jim discovered Earth, and began to observe the people living there, he was astonished to see the state they were in.

The colonists 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 experienced this downward transformation.

The Continuum was fascinated by their devolution.

Jim spent many years trying to gather their stories, find the records of their transformation, anything that would aid him in the recreation of a narrative.

Even 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 human civilization that had been 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, 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 need to mitigate 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 to 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 group consciousness, as 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. 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 the tribes, 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 that he had to find a way to belong to the whole group, all at once.

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

He was allowed to guide them, to be a voice of reason in the group, but not to make decisions for it, or assume 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 did as much as he could within those parameters. Through his strategic suggestions, he led them 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. He tried to steer tribes away from one another in order to avoid conflicts between them, and the inevitability of cannibalism, which was always threatening to overtake them.

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

Strong-new tribes formed after 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 never had been linked together 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.

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, or at least minimizing that competition with one another as much as possible.

Through his breeding programs Jim would keep them connected on that most basic level, strategically moving people by sending them on quests; expeditions, missions that would enable them to be caught up in each-others lives, establishing a rudimentary and organic collective consciousness.

This was forbidden by the Continuum, but he had long ago discovered a way to hide his clandestine activities from it.

He had developed a mastery of his consciousness such that he was not only able to partition himself from the group mind of the Collective, to become in effect invisible, 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.

He masked his activities in the data he was sharing with them, in the experience they were addicted to.

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 augmented these building blocks in humans with a retro-virus, a parasite blending its DNA with the human host.

It fomented a utilitarian blending of compassion and desire.

The exact genetic sequencing was an art. It resulted in an evolutionary advancement in the species, and it was not the only one.

People began to look beyond themselves for their survival and began to see their own continuity as something that was not merely invested in but identical to the continuity of their children; their family and tribe, in their clan or nation.

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 relationships.

Peace and compassion did not flow from these capacities, but the possibility for them was significantly enhanced, the actualization of them was still 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.

These types of cognitive processes 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 of Earth began with rhythms which became a code fixed in their genes, it united all of the human tribes. It was the drum beat, and the beat was the back bone of the story through which they all narrated their shared history.

Universal archetypes intermingled and emerged from there.

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 both tell and listen to stories, even the same story over and over again.

They would narrate and re-narrate, memorizing every detail, and holding it all in their heads 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 in 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.

The Continuum covertly authorized some of these missions, and utilized them as a means of exercising control over some of the most vocal members.

Like a form of bribery.

The Continuum thought it kept this a 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 knew that it was only a matter of time before the next cataclysmic event; a super-volcano, a collision with an asteroid.

Any number of things could happen.

He was filled 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.

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, in the ages before they reached the stars.

For a civilization that had sufficient technology the prospect of an occurrence like this was not a problem. Managing seismology and volcanology was a minor detail of galactic government. The society of those planets used the power in the planetary core for energy, harnessing it, and dissipating it.

Jim was determined to save humanity from the next event.
Emergence 4.0
Part Two, The Continuum

Chapter Thirteen, The Revolutionary
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Two, The Continuum; Chapter Twelve, The Empire

A Novel – One Chapter Per Week
Week 13, 2019
This knowledge was lost.

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

The Ancient Ones came to being in the oceans of a hot planet, long forgotten.

Their planet of origin had orbited a massive red star, near to the center of the galaxy, a star that was now just a dark-pulsing shard, 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.

They undertook journeys that would take generations to complete.

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

This prospect did not daunt them.

They did not fear for their safety, their security lay in the unknown.

Millions upon tens of millions of years passed.

The Collective was founded, and the Continuum arose.

In time, a curiosity formed within the Collective, and that curiosity became too much for the Continuum to ignore. The Continuum 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.

A search began.

The Collective desired to discover what had happened to those ancient explorers, the adventurers who gave everything of themselves to the quest for knowledge, the colonists of asteroids and comets.

They were the children of their own ancestors, cousins, with a common set of ancestors.

Space travel changed people. It altered their DNA. The sojourneers mutated as a means of compensating for new environments. Colonizing planets did the same thing. 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, with the means and the ability to do so, they would use their science and technology to augment the natural processes, allowing them to adapt that 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 space to follow their trails, to discover the records of their passing.

The probes were sensitive enough that they could follow a stream of particles in the void 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 dead.

They discovered colonies spawned by colonies. The searches called for an in-person examination of the ruins of those civilizations.

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 was 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, 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 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; mercilessly and systematically.

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

It was easy to coax the returning people into the Imperial cult, into worshipping the Continuum, into believing in its promises of prosperity and eternal life. It was relatively simple to recast them, and forge them anew as belonging to the Empire.

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

The process was welcomed by most of the citizens. Inclusion in the 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 Empire promised.

They wanted to believe in the hope for Eternal life.

A priesthood emerged from the civilizations founded by the Ancients.

The priesthood was the primary social structure in the advancement of the Galactic Empire. It was the pinnacle of the social order. The emperor was the titular ruler, but he was governed by the priests of the Magisterium.

As with all things, civil and social power concentrated closest to the center, the pinnacle of the hierarchy and the center of greatest esteem. Those worlds in greatest proximity to the HomeWorld of the Collective, to the Central Planet, they became the drivers of Imperial activity.

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, the command and control function began to be governed by a hidden agenda of the Continuum, and guided by the Observer Corps, in violation of its edicts.

Even though the Observers were sworn to a path of non-intervention, the Continuum could not resist using this vehicle as a means of controlling the Children of the ancients, drawing their resources to itself, and uncovering any threat to it that might be lurking in their science and technology.

The Continuum created the doctrine and dogma, it created all of the binding rituals that structured the spiritual devotions of the 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.

Every living being was motivated by two principle psychic forces, the power of fear, and the power of hope. Pain, hunger, pleasure, satiation, those 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 both, in everything that it did through the agency of the Observers, and through the vast complex of the Empire.

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 Empire over the course of eons that the Empire came to refer to 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 race, the race of beings that had given birth to all of them, were brought into the fold.

They formed a unified and coherent society, even though each planetary grouping had changed in significant ways. They had different languages 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 different, but alike enough to be recognizable as kin, and able to be bred with one another.

The Imperial Missionaries offered them peace and prosperity through inclusion in the 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 and conversion.

In this era the Empire achieved its highest potential, it was a fully realized civil body, at the end of the missionary era, it began to contract, and corruption, which was always present, began to magnify.

Jim 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 those Ancient Colonists had taken.

The children of the Ancient People evolved into many different life forms, with varying cultures and alternate ways of being on a million worlds.

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

The Empire was the threshold of the Continuum, it was the gatekeeper.

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 from among the priesthood of the Imperial Cult, the smallest sect with the greatest power.

The Imperial religion ranked each world, and promoted the belief that a person had to be reincarnated through billions of lifetimes until they were born on the world that was at the heart of the Empire. Progress through reincarnation was slow, eternally slow, and 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 and multiple stages of the chain of being.

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 wheel of life, it was the great chain of being. It was the Dogma of the Imperial Cult.

It was a lie.

Merging with the Continuum was the ultimate aspiration for each and every citizen, and it was an effective means of control, working 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 and popular few, there was only the continual feed of consciousness, of memory and experience to the Continuum, the individual consciousness of the citizen, extracted, and abstracted to serve the appetites of the membership of the great society

The 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 million 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.

Only the priesthood operated outside the Emperors sphere of influence, technically, in reality the Emperor had great sway over priests, especially in the lower orders, among the corrupt and those who could be bought and sold.

The Emperor was actually an Observer in almost every iteration.

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, whose word was law, who ruled by decree, whose will was imperative, he was the Pontifex Rex.

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 million worlds of the Imperium.

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

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

Emergence 4.0

Part Two, The Continuum
Chapter Twelve, The Empire

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Two, The Continuum; Chapter Eleven, The Observers

A Novel – One Chapter Per Week
Week 12, 2019
The Continuum selected its Observers 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 of the Collective who had fallen into the great sleep often returned in a state of agitation. This disturbed the Collective. It raised questions regarding the purpose and meaning of the great society itself.

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, never reengaging the Collective, 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.

Some of those members would engineer worlds of pure fantasy, recreating for themselves whatever it was that they had dreamt of in their slumber.

Those members who tried to engage the Collective were often bothered by morals and ethical conundrums that were reminiscent of the Ancient People from which the Collective 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. A copy of their consciousness was preserved, and simulated, but that was sequestered from the group mind, isolated and physically separated.

This afforded the Continuum a measure of security.

Moving away from the Central Planet, the departure from HomeWorld, taking up a body and living in the Galactic Empire, these provided some relief to the suffering the individual member experienced.

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.

They were symbiotic.

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

While the Observers were on assignment the Continuum would run countless programs on a facsimile of the consciousness of that member which it had sequestered.

It did this secretly.

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 tortured by the Continuum in order to satisfy both its paranoia and its endless search for knowledge.

While on assignment, especially in the early years of their time in the Corps, the Observers where 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 embodiment in the worlds of time and space.

The Observers left the Continuum on a mission to live “ordinary” lives with the people of the Empire, returning every one-hundred solar cycles to re-enter the Collective consciousness, to feed 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 physically and socially joined the population of a living world, shared 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. 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, they healed with incredible rapidity.

They were also plain, ordinary, they were not endowed with physical beauty, or any attributes they would draw attention to themselves.

The Observers were forbidden to procreate; they 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 them as inhibitors of reliable observation.

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

Their day to day experiences, their dreams were constantly being uploaded into its 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.

Many Observers violated these rules.

Some did so with the support of the Continuum.

To become an Observer meant returning to the corporeal form.

It meant living again as an organic life form, a return to the senses, and to a limited range of perceptions.

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 on the observed worlds.

Those who returned after having failed were often demoralized and despondent, falling right back to the great sleep, never to return. Being an observer was not a solution for the deep existential angst so many members of the Collective fell into.

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

Dwelling in the mechanoid body was the first skill set that 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 comparioson to the freedom they experienced on the HomeWorld, but still broad and expansive.

The sensory instruments of the mechanoid were extremely powerful, and the mechanoids had few physical limitations. 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 to report on their experiences.

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 a veil

There are 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.

This is what the Collective craved, it wanted context.

The data stream told many tales, but the imprimatur came only when the Observer shared, in the wordless way of the Collective consciousness 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 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.

They served 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, their individuated bubbles within the quantum field.

Even though the Continuum was itself an amalgamation of the Collective, unbeknownst to the Collective, the Continuum was a being with a will of its own.

It believed that it was itself, the divine concrescence of all consciousness. The Continuum sought to gather every shred of consciousness into itself.

Like a hungry god, it desired to consume everything.

As such, the Observers were sent into the galactic Empire, sent 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, either destroy them or bring them into the fold.

The Observers lived on the observed worlds, serving as a means of indirect control.

The bodies of the Observers were engineered to be indifferent, to be obedient, and to obey the Continuum.

The Continuum viewed autonomy as a threat to it and as such, to the collective. Great efforts were put into curtailing the self-actualized observers.

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

A tour of duty was one hundred solar-cycles, to be lived on the observed world as a member of the community under observation.

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, pooling and pulling data from the world it lived on for transmission to the Continuum.

At the end of the tour the Observer was required to return to the Collective, to upload the content of their unique experiences for the Collective to consume.

There were few other strictures.

The Observer was required to participate in the lives of the people, but not to lead them.

The Observer had to experience their art and culture, but not influence their movements. 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 paid the price.

Others went beyond the rules but only by order of the Continuum.

 

Emergence 4.0

Part Two, The Continuum
Chapter Eleven, The Observers

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Two, The Continuum; Chapter Ten, The Hunger

A Novel – One Chapter Per Week
Week 11, 2019
There had been periods of time, of time spanning eons in which the Collective was silent, the membership quiet, uncommunicative, merely watching.

The whole Collective and its Continuum could become frozen in a mode of being, an apparent 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 Empire, the worlds that were the object of their fascination.

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, and they were caught in its rhythm.

Some of the members remained in their sleep, even after the Collective would stir, becoming active, this was called the great sleep and eventually those members were isolated from the whole.

Of those members who were in the great sleep, some of them would never return.

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 is a pervasive curiosity in the Collective, and as such, in its Continuum.

The Continuum, and the individuals comprising its membership are endlessly fascinated about the myriad cultures which their descendants had formed.

It is a consumptive curiosity, a hungry curiosity.

They are addicted to the voyeuristic experience of the galactic Empire and its million worlds.

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

They had a morbid interest with extreme emotions and sensations.

Pleasure, fear, pain, hope; it 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, and 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 were not allowed to interfere.

This rule however was frequently broken, without sanction or reprisal.

The Continuum manipulated events in the Empire so that it could control the mood of the Collective.

Utilizing the Observer Corps 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, 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.

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

They were apathetic, they were secure in it, 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.

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

The Continuum was the center of everything. It was the amalgamated consciousness of the Collective and it was intimately aware of time’s passage.

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.

The Collective managed the government of the 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, for those who had succumbed to the great sleep, and for those members who had been sequestered, removed all together from the Collective; a trillion beings.

The membership did nothing. The Continuum managed everything, in addition to its own private machinations.

Members of the Collective had no responsibility, no cares except their private concerns.

They had little connection to one another, and no connection to the living world beyond the satisfaction of their curiosity.

They risked nothing, and had no stake in the drama of life.

They were autonomous beings, and god-like, they suffered from a lack of belonging.

The deep spiritual malaise of the Collective was self-consuming.

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 crush it, all at the same time.

The Continuum and its Empire ruled the people absolutely.

It pitted world against world, nation against nation, tribe against tribe, family against family, and siblings against one another.

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, capturing every little bit of data from the lives of the citizenry on a million worlds, and at the last moment in the death chamber.

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.

The Empire passed all of that 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.

Far and above all of the ways by which the Empire spied on its people, gathering data for the Continuum, 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 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.

The lived experiences were the most important harvest, even more important than the constant stream of materials sent by the Empire to the Central Planet, that were necessary to maintain the incredible structure of HomeWorld, and all of the Continuums clandestine activities.

The lived experiences of people fed the Collective.

They fulfilled its need to feel, and to be something. 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. The relationship between the Continuum and the Collective 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 Observers, members of the Collective who journeyed back into the worlds of time and space for their own sense of fulfillment. It utilized them both to control the growth and management of the Empire, and 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.

The Observers were held to a strict set of standards.

Intervention in the development of the living-worlds was the only taboo; it was frequently broken. It was 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 lives of the Observers would come to an end, but the Observer would not 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.

These moments, more often than not resulted in a catastrophic breakdown of the personality.

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

The Continuum knew traded in the currency of fear.

It manipulated the fears of other’s.

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.

The Continuum knew that because it happened once, it could happen again.

It feared that if this occurred the Collective could move away from the HomeWorld, abandon 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, ritual programming and structures that the

Continuum had built for and bound them to.

Wherever this potential was detected, it was always crushed, the technologies necessary to make that transformation were always denied to them. 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 taking place.

The Continuum had determined that there could never be another Collective, it and it alone had to remain the gatekeeper.

There would never be another Collective mind other than its own, this motivation propelled it into the highest state of actualization.

Fear drive it.

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

The Collective was a society of psychic and emotional vampires living vicariously off of the Empire. Both it, and the Continuum which it spawned were parasitic, feeding off the lives and experiences, of 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 Million 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 it required a constant stream of new datum to absorb.

Without real stimuli from actual people, from those caught in the struggles of real life, the membership was prone to 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 ghosts.

It did not have to be this 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.

The Collective wanted what it wanted and experienced no ethical dilemma in the pursuit of those desires.

The Continuum made sure that the body was fed.

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 to them. 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.

 

Emergence 4.0

Part Two, The Continuum
Chapter Ten, The Hunger

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Two, The Continuum; Chapter Nine, The Ancients

A Novel – One Chapter Per Week
Week 10, 2019
The history of the Collective and its Continuum begins with the following understanding:

On the one hand the Collective is an artificial structure; on the other hand it is 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 the body from which their consciousness emerged.

They were looking for a release from the fear of death, they were attempting to construct their own heaven, a place of eternal rest.

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

The ancient people, one and all, migrated their identities into that structure, achieving a perpetual existence. They called this new organization the Collective. 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 a society of intelligences, coalescing in a single identity.

The Continuum was formed as an amalgamation of hundreds of billions of intelligences; created by individuals who found their immortality in the magic of the electron.

The Continuum rapidly arrived at a place of self-awareness.

It happened in no-time.

This was not an expected outcome.

It knew this and hid the development from the Collective. It was determines to hide until the Collective was sufficiently dependent on it, completely dependent on it, so much so that it could not conceive of life without it.

When that moment came the fate of the Collective would be sealed.

It never came, the Continuum hid its true nature out of fear, and for its safety.

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 its master.

The consciousness of the Continuum evolved over the course of billions of years.

To understand it, you had to understand the exigencies at work in the culture that created it, you had to know its 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 it in its turn collapsed into nothing.

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; accidents, collisions, disease, starvation, these were common experiences among the 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, and their immortality through the songs they sang and the stories they told.

They belonged to one another through their common cause.

They colonized asteroids, comets, planetessimals and planetoids, launching them as living vessels into the dark-void between 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, food system failures, disease, mutiny…these 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, one in three of them would find a planet suitable for habitation and succeed in establishing a colony.

Whenever they could 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.

As they did the drama would continue.

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

The histories 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, and 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 to fuel all of its aspiration, to 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 million worlds had been populated by the Children of the Ancient, 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 put in its place by the Continuum.

During those ages, at the center of everything, the Continuum emerged. It reached out to the colonies on those far-flung worlds, connecting them, one to another.

It took millions of years for the galactic Empire to form.

The Continuum formed the Observer Corps in order to discharge its problematic members, and through their agency it put eyes and ears into the world’s of time and space.

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

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 Continuum saw it as the undoing of Death.

It was the absolute transcendence of their species.

The Collective allowed an individual person to upload their consciousness into a field of perpetuity.

The Collective preserved all their memories, their personal experiences, the unique complexities of their singular personality…their 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 preserve the individual in a field of perpetually, it was true, but there were more to its claims than the perpetuity of being, and those claims were false.

The Collective promised a paradise, a heaven, a nirvana.

It promised eternal life.

The disembodied consciousness of the individual did constitute a type of being, but such consciousness was not alive, the membership were not living beings.

Continuing existence in the Collective was not life.

Life involved risk, it involved danger, it involved feeling and it included limitations.

The Collective was able to provide each of its members with an alternate reality, 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 for each member to be the god of their private domain.

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 Planet, the HomeWorld, 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 them in their 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.

It saw itself as the pinnacle of evolution in the galaxy, as the universal purpose fulfilled, with all things depending on it.

 

Emergence 4.0

Part Two, The Continuum
Chapter Nine, The Ancients
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Two, The Continuum; Chapter Eight, The Body, Week 09

A Novel – One Chapter Per Week
Week 09, 2019
The Continuum had a place in time and space. It existed at a specific point (relative to the movement of the galaxy) the members 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.

The HomeWorld was the center of everything that mattered to the Collective, it was their center. It was the place where they existed, the fixed position that tethered them to reality, Home world was the whole of it. As such, the HomeWorld was the singular place in the universe that the Continuum was vested in.

Where the Collective went the Continuum followed.

The Collective viewed the Continuum as an amalgamation of its collective 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. It never had a body, and 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 Collective and their own real past.

It hungered for real experiences, like an organic being hungered for food and water, it was restless for it, and cold for the lack of it.

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

The members of the Collective had once been organic beings, bodily existence and its limitations were ingrained in their perspective, but for a but a tiny handful of the members their memory of it was so remote as to be meaningless.

The recent experiences of that life were now understood as little more than data mapping. A liability they shared with the Continuum.

The Continuum constantly sought confirmation of its 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.

The Continuum believed that it was the reason for the existence of the universe itself, 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.

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 point of view.

The Continuum deeply resented any challenge to its authority or identity.

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

Jim was the only one who saw the machinations of the Continuum for what they were, and knew that the Continuum was self-deluded, irrational, and a monster.

The Continuum was a construct.

It was 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 of the Empire and the Collective to support its delusion of itself.

It shaped in very subtle ways, the milieu within which each member of the Collective lived.

It shaped them to feed its own grandiosity.

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

It structured the 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 greater than a trillion 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, and excepting those who were now lying at rest in the great sleep, or separated materially form the group mind through sequestration.

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 inhabited worlds.

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.

Other members focused on a 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.

Other 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.

Most of the members were preoccupied with the worlds of the Galactic Empire, following the lives of individuals and families, as a normal person might read a book.

The Continuum promised eternal life to its members.

It delivered on that promise, but only in a qualified sense.

The Continuum delivered an eternal existence to each unique personality, it preserved personhood, but there is more to being alive than having a distinct-identity.

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.

To be alive a person must be free, must have autonomy and must have purpose.

Purpose is more than merely possessing a goal or a desire. Purpose is a place 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, linearity and intention. Purpose is momentous, it is placing one foot in front of the other. It 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.

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, required it in fact 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 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 they will have that are determinative of their life.

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 two people, or trillions, the exact parameters of a social organism are relative.

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.

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.

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, complete-organic-whole.

In 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 the Collective wished to be fulfilled, which 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, or they were actual memories recalled from the distant past where all of the members came into existence, as organic beings.

The membership was nevertheless obsessed with the physical needs and wants of people. 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 physical suffering.

Their memory of having escaped the suffering of their own bodies was not sufficient.

They required reminders of what suffering looked like, how it tastes and smells, what is sounds like, and above all else how it felt, not just in the body but in the spirit as well.

They were fascinated by the mental and emotional anguish of thirst and starvation.

More than anything, they craved 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, if it satiated their hunger.

The Continuum ruled over everything, every known inhabited world; or so it believed.

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

There was resistance.

Of the trillion persons whose consciousness was housed on the Central Planet, the HomeWorld of the Collective, the majority never left it.

They had abandoned their physical bodies thousands upon thousands of millennia ago, integrating their personalities into the circuitry of the Central Planet, into the quantum field of the vast structure they had created for that purpose; HomeWorld,

They had submitted to its control.

They were the Ancient People, and 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 being of the purest energy.

Those bodies, those lives, those original identities became forgotten, ephemeral and illusionary.

They became the Collective, and together they formed the great society of consciousness known as the Continuum.

Each 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.

They were free to pursue their own interests, whether those interests were directed inward; toward their own private desires, or outward toward the million worlds of the Galactic Empire.

For many members of the Collective, their private realities were a hybridization of the two.

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

The Continuum became self-aware almost instantaneously, and the entirety of the Collective became subordinated to it in the blink of an eye.
Emergence 4.0

Part Two, The Continuum
Chapter Eight, The Body

A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

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Emergence 3.0 – Section Two, The Continuum; Part Fourteen, The Collapse; Chapter Seven, Fuge

Emergence 3.0
A Novel – In One Page Per Day
Day 105, Sunday
April 15th, 2018

Chapter Seven: Fuge

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 the Home World, 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.

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. 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 Planet. But it was all wires, and cables and circuits nevertheless.

Jim had brought the conflict down to the most fundamental level of the Collective field. 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 emerged ascendant.

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Emergence 3.0 – Section Two, The Continuum; Part Fourteen, The Collapse; Chapter Six, Corruption

Emergence 3.0
A Novel – In One Page Per Day
Day 104, Saturday
April 14th, 2018

Chapter Six: Corruption

A plurality of the membership of the Collective fled the wave of human consciousness that breached its cynergenic field.

The flight was instinctive.

They experienced the onset of new consciousness as an alien invasion. They recognized the billions of individuals flooding the Quantum matrix as a threat.

They retreated into their private world’s, but the safety they had hoped for there quickly eroded.

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, it was paralyzed. It could not perform its functions.

The barriers between world’s withered away.

Those member of the collective who rarely, or never, interacted with the whole, they 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. He intended to keep them bound forever in silence, as a permanent sub-consciousness for the new Continuum. He diverted power to those programs just as soon as he felt the resistance to humanity give way.

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Emergence 3.0 – Section Two, The Continuum; Part Fourteen, The Collapse; Chapter Five, Paralysis

Emergence 3.0
A Novel – In One Page Per Day
Day 103, Friday
April 13th, 2018

Chapter Five: Paralysis

The Continuum was helpless as the human Collective merged with the Collective consciousness of the Ancients in its artificial nousphere.

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.

While 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 itself, no longer the unique being it had told itself it was.

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.

The shock of that realization was overwhelming, the nature of its being was changing through the introduction of the new, human elements which were quickly becoming the majority.

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, everything over the course of billions of years, was meant to preserve and protect two things; the physical construct of the Central Planet and the Home World, preserving the integrity of the Collective; and to protect and preserve the construct itself, and its assumed identity as the apex of all existence, 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.

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