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.
Part Two, The Continuum
Chapter Thirteen, The Revolutionary
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week
#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek
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