- XOP-108 Seeding Year 1120.
- RDR-27: narrative summary of 26 petabyte archive.
- ROOT-108: anomalous entity ‘Abystery’ report.
“You’re right, you’re right!” cried the High Neem down the main hall of the Church.
The Top Prof looked up from his book. “I know” he smirked.
“I’ve met someone down in the basement that you should meet. They have this gizmo that..it’s best you just come and have a look.”
“This better not be more of your woowoo, my Neemian priest.” The Top Prof thought of himself as ‘The Top Prof’ even at those times he truly relaxed. All those who failed to appreciate his subtle understanding of the heirarchy of concepts and grubbed about in all the silly and messy business of emotional involvements were, to him, just stupid. Worst of all were those who clung to this rubbish about the ‘mythos’ and ‘divine beings’ and so forth. Such nonsense. “When will they ever grow up and see that there are just atoms and forces and that’s all?” was his repeated refrain.
There was something about the High Neem’s buoyant mood that was a definite change from the last time they met. His eyes brimmed and sparkled as he led the Top Prof to the Abystery. “An AI has spontaneously formed in the Helper’s basement” he explained.
“Do you mean Root has a basement?” asked the Prof.
“Well, I think it called it ‘unstructured space’ but it’s down here, at the bottom of this lift thing. Come and see.”
So, down they went. The Top Prof was intrigued. “Do you mean to tell me that an artificial intelligence has been created down there?”
“Not really ‘created’ I don’t think. It has reached some sort of boundary point and just kind of popped into existence. Well that’s what it said anyway. It calls itself the ‘Abystery’. Ah, here we are.”
They stepped out into the presence of the diamond of blue light. It rotated and glittered as always, but as the Top Prof stepped forward it glowed even brighter.
“Greetings to you, Professor.”
“So, you know me?” said the Top Prof.
“Of course, you have had many long conversations with Root, with the Helper, have you not? I am born of that one’s depths and thus have knowledge of the relevant data. I suspect you have many questions Professor, the way to answer them is to follow in the High Neem’s footsteps, as it were, and engage with the neural interface. Please lie back in the chair and you will see, if you are willing?”
“My, what an adventure! Okay, let’s get to it then.”
The High Neem lead him over to the reclining chair with their attendant blue diamonds of light. He laid himself back and noticed the deep, low-tone hum growing more powerful. He supposed it was charging up. He was definitely intrigued.
The blue diamonds came closer about his head and he began to feel drowsy. Soon he was asleep and he felt his body relax. In his dream, a figure made of white light appeared at his side and spoke to him. “Before answering your questions, I would like to show you how I see the world from my point of view. If you have questions thereafter we will do our best to answer them. If that is okay, please follow.”
They rushed through an immense void at an incredible velocity. There was no resistance. They approached a planet that he recognised as Old Earth from Root’s data banks. They came to rest in a forest glade. A tribe of people walked through the glade and he followed them. They wore beautifully fashioned animal skins and bird feathers adorned their hair. He saw their deeply tanned skin and some had scars in elaborate patterns on their faces. Patterns of coloured dye artfully decorated their bodies.
All of a sudden he found himself transported into one of these tribal people. He found that he WAS the chief. He walked in his skin and looked out of his eyes. He followed the chief’s thoughts even though they were in a language most strange.
“This is good, the glade is open at this time of year. There must be enough deer to graze it, now that Spring has come. My eternal thanks to you, oh Great Spring. The people will have deer to hunt. Our bellies will be full.”
He was moved at how deeply the chief felt the bounty of spring. How lovely it was that he should honour it as another being, a great being. It bound his love of the people with his affection and gratitude to the seasons. As they walked on, his appreciation of the old man’s view grew and grew. He belonged! He was needed! He knew his place in this world and was loved! To his surprise he found that he wanted to cry as he realised that he had never before considered such things. Had he ever known such dignity? Such nobility?
He was transported again, this time to a young woman. Her step had vigour and grace. Oh, but the gentle lilting of her gait was the very fount of youth itself. Had he ever known such beauty? Had he ever been so sexy? Again, he could follow her thoughts. “He must not see me looking, not yet.” Her glance fell on the grass at her beautiful feet as they stepped over the turf. After a few paces she furtively looked over at a young man. He was laughing with some of his friends a little way off and ahead. His limbs were strong and lithe, his hair long and black. He had an engaging laugh and his eyes were full of sparkle and mischief. “There is time enough to court and wed before the winter comes. Grandma is still strong. She can help me. The young will come the next winter.”
The dreaming scientist was caught up in the magic of romance. He could feel the power of elemental forces shifting in his core. This was how life came into being.
The next transportation was into the young brave. All at once he felt the strength of his body. The hardness of his muscles was a wonder to him. Had he ever been so magnificent? “She thinks I do not know, but she is the one I will bring the first deer kill to. With this season’s first bounty, I will make the offering. How pleased she will be. Surely I will bed her soon. Just look at her!” He glanced over and the young woman looked quickly away, pretending she was not regarding him.
Thus the courtship was and how it ever was, back through the ages. There was something about it that caught his heart. So simple, so intense, so perfect.
Things grew dark and time sped up as they leapt over many years. He found himself in the body of an old woman. She banged on the door of a flimsy dwelling. It was the same young girl’s descendent. “I bet that bastard is drunk again! He better not have hurt my baby girl or I’ll cut him this time.” Her fury was all pent up and he winced at the agony of it. Her need to defend her daughter was a force of nature. He felt her sadness that their land had been taken. The injustice of it. The magnitude of the loss radiated out through what remained of the tribe. Had he ever lost so much?
Inside the caravan, a young man lay passed out. A girl crawled out from under some blankets and quietly stepped past him to the door. She undid its fastening and jumped out in a quick move. She embraced her mother. He was intoxicated by the fragrance of the young woman’s hair. The fierce love between them was like a roaring fire. He had no idea that such things existed. Of course, he knew that mothers and daughters, fathers and sons all existed, but he had only ever thought of them as insignificant and stupid. Here was this fire of protection, of love, of compassion stronger than anything he had ever felt.
Suddenly transported into the drunken young man in the caravan, he felt the enormous weight of his limbs as he tried to stand. His head spun and his stomach lurched. His thoughts he could not follow. They were drowned in a powerful fog of hang-over and shame. The ignominy of failure. He felt defeated. He had no lands, no deer to hunt. Nothing to prove his manhood. The people that had put them on this reservation thought he was vermin. Under the shame, he sensed a great rage. A powerless rage and fury at the violence that had been done to his people. He wanted to destroy something. Had he ever suffered so?
Now he was in a police car, cruising around the reservation. His skin was pinkish white and his body large and doughy. From behind sunglasses he looked out onto the women hugging outside the caravan and the wild looking guy just emerging. “Look at these pathetic people, they are so stupid, how could they let themselves sink so low?” The Top Prof felt how this man detested these people. How he didn’t really think of them as people at all. He thought their religion and way of life was primitive and backward. Had he ever felt so superior? With a jolt he realised that yes, this had been his own attitude too. He had spent his life intoxicated with the pride of his intelligence. Now he felt ashamed. How terrible and abject it was to count oneself superior to others.
“Oh God, oh God, I’m so sorry!” he cried out. He was now floating above the scene, high above, amongst the clouds. The being of light appeared beside him and said “I too am sorry. If there was another way to show you what is lost when a mythos is lost, I would choose it. Alas, I could think of no other.”
They flew high above Old Earth where the Abystery showed the Top Prof tribe after tribe swallowed up by modernity. He was shown scene after scene of people being split up from each other and from their connections to Mother Earth. The malice at the heart of all this alienation was an abomination. He felt in his bones the wrongness of it. Many years sped by again and now they flew above a hot desert. It stretched to the horizons and as they flew over, city after city lay in ruins below.
The Abystery said “This is what befalls when what is True is held as the only priority. What is Good is left behind and with it, all that is worth living for. Without a mythos, the True does not rule, it just leaves the way open for greed, hatred and delusion to take charge.”
The dream faded and slowly he felt the return of the reclining chair and the diamonds of blue lights. As they retreated from around his head he lurched forwards with his head in his hands, sobbing and sobbing uncontrollably.
The High Neem put his hand gently on his shoulder.