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Page history last edited by rsb 5 years, 6 months ago

 


Paul was trying to calculate the capsules trajectory, but he couldn't stop thinking about his legs.  He couldn't feel them.  He couldn't feel anything. 

 

His mind compensated for the lack of sensation with images and sounds and feelings that weren't there - in frightening detail. 

 

He was aware of the sound of his own breath.  That, he could focus on.  

 

He could still see the stars, the universe, passing by.

 

It was hard to measure time - in stasis, it didn't matter - it may as well have stopped. 

 

He wondered what his family would be told.

------

After a standard month, Paul realized that he was leaving the system.  He wasn't headed anywhere near home.  Escape pods could not bend space.  Emotions dominated him.  Soon, all he had left was grief.  He could no longer hear the sound of his breathing - only the sounds his mind recalled - sounds worth grieving over.

------

A year later, he met Roger.  Paul had always known, somewhere deep down, that Roger was a part of him.  Roger introduced him to the star maps and the physics that Paul had learned in school.  Paul showed Roger the memory palaces that he had built.  Together they spent the days and nights.

------

After ten years adrift, after uncovering most things that Paul had experienced and learned, and almost everything Roger had known, after building a city together, they found a way to bring more people in. 

 

That was when their first great argument occurred.  Roger knew that to add people to their world, Paul would have to close down entire palaces, lose great sections of the city, the beauty and the detail that had taken so long and given them such happiness. 

Paul, in simple whites, stood on the walkway between the imperial palace and library, and stared out through the transparent glass, at the universe in motion. 

Roger, his silk robes embroidered with geometric constants flowing behind him, hurried down the walkway to join Paul.  They loved to meet here.

"You know we will have to lose things.  Some things forever.", Roger reasoned.
"I have to take that chance, Roger.", said Paul with a smile, looking to the stars.
"We still have so much we can build.  We have done so much research.  We're making real progress."
"We're lonely Roger.  Not just me.  You need more than this."
"I don't!  I have everything I need here with you.  The life of the mind is the only truly happy life.  I still believe that!"
"I don't."
"We can still imagine them."
"Imagination is not the same as reality, Roger.  I still remember what they were like.  My wife.  My children."
"They won't be the same.  You know that.  Not even close.  We can have the best of all possible worlds, here.  A perfect world."
"I don't know, Roger.  Even here, I'm not sure we have that much control.", Paul said.
"I am certain."

Paul said nothing.  They just stood there for a while, both knowing.

"I won't lose my research, Paul...I can't...it's too important.  More important than me...", Roger strained to keep the tears back.
"...more important than you.", Roger said.
"When there is a tiger above, and a tiger below...lets play a game.", Paul said, turning to Roger and smiling.  "Soon enough, I'll set out.  I'll stay as far from the research as I can."
"Take the city down, but don't touch the research...", Roger said, tears rolling down his cheeks.

Paul said nothing, but with gestures, arranged the most complicated and intricate multi-dimensional game he and Roger had ever played.  Rogers heart wasn't in it, but he excelled at the kind of math involved.  It was an epic battle that lasted months, and lifted their spirits.  At times they were laughing or whooping or straining with effort.  But eventually, Roger prevailed.  In the end, the victory was infinitely hollow, for Roger knew it merely marked the end of a great affair.

------

A hundred standard years into their journey, Roger had a breakthrough.  He ran to the walkway to tell Paul, but his heart sank, for he knew where Paul was.  He teleported to the sub-basement of the research facility, and turned on the lights. 

Paul, in his teardrop-shaped escape capsule, blankly stared out through the extensive viewport. 

Roger had engineered a finer stasis system than any that had come before.  In a second capsule, Pauls wife, or something like her, stared straight ahead as well.

"I did it Paul.", Roger said.
"I had to tear down most of the city to do it.  I still have the palace...", Roger said as he slumped against the far wall.
"The equations were staggering.  But I know now.  I know where we are.  I know where we are going.  Some place real.  A place that this capsule will bring life to!  By the time we get there, I may know how to get us home, Paul."
"You know it was worth it.  You know what this means!  We're close, Paul.  To a real life!"

Rogers eyes moved to his feet.

"I know you won't understand.  I couldn't let her bring another mind into this world.  She was so much bigger than we thought."
Roger lifted his head to the other capsule, his hand to his chin, contemplating. 
"I know now that I can get us home, Paul...you'll forgive me...then."
Roger dimmed the lights, and, slowly, began to construct the next stage of his research facilities, each nut, bolt, and equation, taking a piece of Pauls wife with it, until Paul lay next to an empty capsule.  Soon, even that dissapeared.

------

A thousand years in, Paul began to understand his situation.  He did not know what journey he was on.  But he saw it for what it was: A journey of constant change, of destruction.  He could see the past and the future as a single path, and he began to let go. 

As he did so, he began to step outside himself.  He recognized sensation for what it was. 

His mind and his consciousness fell asunder of their own accord.

------

A million years into their journey, Roger paid Paul another visit.

"I've made progress, Paul."
"I have ten times the memory capacity we thought possible.  I could bring back the crude facsimile you imagined of your wife and kids, theoretically." 

"There's only one problem..." Roger said, "I have better uses for that space."

"You wouldn't believe how many people I've created and destroyed in all these millenia.  Or maybe you would.  I know you've been thinking in there.  I've certainly got my flaws, I've come to realize.  I've enjoyed these years...but I don't let bad habits get in the way of productivity.", Roger flipped on the lights.

This time, Roger appeared as a giant white insect.

"I've been tempted dissemble you, believe me, but I've left you largely in-tact. You didn't need most of that body, as it turns out."
Roger pressed a white, mantis-like face against the pod next to Paul.  "No one plays the game like you, though.", he said menacingly.

Roger paced in front of Paul.

"Well, I'll level with you.  It's taking me some time to reclaim your mind.  You've got a grip on that thing that defies logic.", Roger said.

"So, I have a fittingly illogical appeal.  See this.", Roger said, and a timer appeared in front of Paul. "You have this much time to let go of a few memories for me.  That will be the signal.  Once I have them, I will create a facsimile of your wife and children, living in joy.  You will continue to release your memories, and I will keep your family running.  A million years of joy, in exchange for your mind.  A few images for you." Images of Pauls family at their happiest played before him. "Think on it."

Roger dissolved into the background.  He reappeared on the imperial walkway, staring at the starscape. 

In another million years, they would land in the system as he had projected.  The pod would attempt to seed the planet, helping life along, if it did not exist.  By Rogers calculations, it just might work.

With luck, by the time the capsule was opened, he would know how to build what was needed. 

Elena appeared, and took his hand. 
"Interesting times." Roger said to Elena.
"Indeed, your majesty.", Elena said.

They looked out over the bustling city.  Rogers subjects were legion, although a crude simulation at a distance. 

Elena was the first that Roger made wholly independent.  A genius in her own right, developing her own experiences, theories, and emotions.  She aided Roger with his research and served as the ideal companion.

The escape pod rounded the star system, and entered approach mode, slowing and adjusting its course into orbit over the most suitable planet.  It was spectacular.  After one hundred million years, the pod appeared to function exactly as designed - focused energy softening its landing in a large body of water.  They celebrated.  The world was indeed an ideal place to land.

 

-----------

 

Millenia passed.

Fate provided the pod with a view of the roiling skies of the planet, the splashing waves of it's oceans.  This was the time of great risk.  They could do nothing more to support intelligent life on this planet.

Roger worked away with Elena to measure the skies and calculate their fate, though they knew they were helpless to do anything but watch. 

Fear took its toll.  Without Elena, Rogers sufferring would have been intolerable.  The excitement outside made it entirely impossible to concentrate on his research.  

Elena kept him focused, and to the extent that he could, Roger loved her.  Their attachment grew deep.

The pod struck an object, became buried, and stayed buried for millions of years. 

A break in the black sky grew.  Then two, and dozens of cracks, spreading out over the sky - grasping tendrils that sprouted tendrils, encompassing the world.  Life. 

-------

Pauls awareness continued to grow.  He was able to explore and understand his biological structure.  His mind became a transparent thing, a thing he could see and feel.  He studied it's movements.  He watched it think.  Any thought could be observed, or controlled.  He understood their genesis at a fundamental level.

-------

One hundred million years later, Roger was ready.  His knowledge of mathematics and physics now far exceeded that of the society that had trained him.  He had prepared and tested his designs.  He knew how to bend space. 

 

Roger dominated this mind, but only Paul had ever controlled the Body.  Roger had learned to generate sympathetic brain waves that could be used to control his Body once released.  He had no need for Paul.  When the capsule opened, he would take control of this Body, and begin his real work.  

A dominant life form had emerged on the planet - humans - they had interacted with the capsule.  Roger began to study them.  He and Elena taught their children, Astara and Hope, the primitive languages the humans spoke. 
 
Astara and Hope were fascinated by the humans. 

The humans were so similar, but so primitive - a source of humor for the children.  The children were fascinated with the "universe" outside of the "Body", and spent very little of their time observing the "realm" which Roger had created.

Roger had no patience for the humans.  They were frustratingly stupid.  Only the love of his family kept him from going completely mad as he awaited their advancement.

Displayed in the private collection of the humans largest religion, the escape pod containing Roger was shown to religious scientists and philosophers. 

Roger learned their politics, how they controlled one another.  After each war, the capsule changed hands, each tribe putting Roger in front of its best and brightest, until one tribe, more advanced than the others, dominated.

Once the Americans had the capsule in the Eugene laboratory, Roger knew it was time.  They had mastered fusion, they understood the barrier that they were dealing with in the stasis field.

Then the day came.

The American humans assigned keeping Roger alive their highest priority.  Most of their precautions were unnecessary, some of them harmful, but Roger believed they would be successful. 

Roger had built a great mall in anticipation of the event.  Seating for his subjects, with appropriate and massive statuary around the mall, had been erected.

A floating cathedral for Roger and his family, high above his subjects, was protected by an energy field.  Roger had given all of his subjects the power of flight for this new, highly anticipated phase of their lives.

He and his family held hands as the stasis field was pounded again and again, ultimately shattering.  The stasis field disabled, the pod began it's opening process. 

Humans and their machines waited with weapons and instruments trained.  The scientists charged with reanimating Roger were as anxious as Roger and his family were, gripping the arms of their chairs tightly. 

All at once, the pod began to change.  The transparent material of it's front melted away.

The empire watched as the sky they had always looked upon shimmered.  All waited to see how Roger would interact with the humans, the wisdom he would impart, how he would control the body they knew inhabited.

--------

As they watched, a low roar shook the city.  A vibration built up to levels that its structures could not tolerate.  Cracks grew in the statuary of the mall, then pieces began to fall.  The massive amount of glass in the cathedral began to crack, then shatter. 

Sheer horror took root in the citizens of the empire.  Elena, Astara, and Hope looked to Roger to explain the chaos, but they knew this was not of his doing.  The roaring only grew, the crumbling city diminished faster. 

Roger examined every aspect of the Body he inhabited.  It was exactly as it was before the capsule was opened.  The rhythm of it's breathing was the only thing that resonated in its mind.  He commanded that to stop.  The roaring diminished.  But the city still crumbled.  No.  Worse.  It fell faster. 

Roger looked down and saw that the citizens themselves began to crumble.  They stopped moving.  Gradually, they were turning to dust.  His family, Elena, Astara, Hope - they all began to diminish, to crack, to slow. 

Roger ordered the Body to speak.  It responded.  In the humans tribal language, he pleaded with them to stop.  Through the Body he told them his family was dying.  Showed them, on his human-like face, that this was the greatest of griefs.  Roger asked them how this could be happening. 

They responded.  They meant him no harm, is what they said.  They were only attempting to reanimate him.  They asked him how he knew their language.  Roger cared nothing for their questions.  Somehow they were destroying his world, his loved ones.  Roger knew that they did not know why, for he had seen and heard their preparations.  He had seen their designs for this chamber, he had studied their work almost as well as they had.  Roger became more specific.  He ordered them to double the concentration of oxegyn in the chamber.  Astara and Hope had completely turned to dust.  Roger screamed in agony.  The oxegyn concentration increased.  But it did not help.  Roger continued his dialoge with the humans, who were compliant, but useless.  In her last moments, he reached out to kiss Elena, but she became dust to his touch.

When the destruction ceased, most of Rogers research remained, and some buildings.  The memory available to him was halved.  He had many theories as to what caused the destruction.  The stupidity of the humans figured prominently in them.  It did not matter.  Only his grief mattered.  He let the Body go limp. 

 

--------

Rogers plan had not changed, much.  He would find a way for this body to live safely, in stasis, away from the tiny, short-lived humans, away from this planet.

He knew he could recreate his family, one day, in statis.  He had much to do before that could happen.  Bringing his family back required holding on to his research, and rapidly aiding the humans in their research.  He dedicated himself to it.  When he returned to stasis, he would be with his family again.

One change needed to be made.  The humans could not be allowed to interfere.  Leaving them in the universe simply would not do.  Besides, he despised them.

--------

One hundred years later, Roger had helped the humans in every aspect of their scientific research.  Knowing their past, he manipulated their future, winding his way into a position of silent power.  Maintaining the appearance of ignorance required a simple trick that no human he met had mastered, thinking before speaking.  As an alien, he was able to pass this habit off as eccentricity.

-------

On the day the Great Fleet began its mission, Roger was a Vice Emperor among the humans.  The simple mining fleet that existed when he had begun to aid the humans had transformed into a fighting force that could bend space and conquer worlds. 

Admiral Ash entered Rogers office aboard the science vessel. 
Roger sat facing away from him, preferring to view the stars through the one transparent wall of his office as he worked. 

"The gas has been released, your majesty...across all ships.", Ash messaged Roger.  Only a few decades ago, the humans would have spoken rather than use brain computer interfaces for this type of interaction.
Roger stood and turned to face him.


"Congratulations, Ash, you will forever be known as the brighest, most righteous, and most impotent human.", Roger messaged.
Roger offered his hand.  Ash took it, and Roger smiled.  Roger returned to his seat as Ash fell into convulsions.
"I will note this in the history of the Realm, just after the section describing the gas you released as a self-replicating nerve toxin, and before the section describing the fleets precipitous return to the inhabited planets of Sol."


Roger swiveled his chair back to see the final convulsions of Ash. 
"I appreciate your total disregard for your fellow beings, by the way.  I really feel we shared a common bond, there."
Roger gestured, and a three meter oval panel slid open in the side wall of his office. 
"Goodbye, human."

 

Roger entered the pod.  The sooner he was in stasis, the better.  Roger only needed wait for the science vessle to bend space, and to eject this pod as programmed.  The pod would evade detection nearly indefinitely, until the day when it was required, once again, to visit a developing world.  This pod was special.  It would integrate with Rogers brain.

------

As Roger awaited the launch of the escape pod in the science vessel, he greeted throngs of cheering subjects back in the realm.  For the past year, Roger had been dumping research from his mind - freeing up space for the growth of the Realm.  Soon enough, he would begin to reconstruct his family.  That moment was inevitable, now.  While he awaited it, Roger made a visit to an old friend.

"Paul."  Roger said, and waved a hand in front of Pauls lifeless face.
"Our Body is in a much more capable pod, Paul.  Before we enter stasis,  I will break you apart and reclaim the space you occupy."
"You were wrong, of course.  I wanted you to know that.  A perfect world, Paul.  I will create it.  I have control.  Total control.  You control nothing.  If you did, our places would be switched.", Roger said.

"Good a time as any.", Paul said.
Roger could not speak.  He stared out the pod window and saw Paul, whole of body, wearing his plain white outfit, leaning over the pod.  Rogers mind raced to understand how this was possible.

"Not everything is as it has seemed, Roger.", Paul said.  "I have, in fact, learned to control a few things.  Our thoughts, for one - yours and my sensations - as you can see from your position within that pod.  Controlling ones mind is a little more important than filling it with facts, as it turns out."


"Don't worry.  I won't leave you wondering what happened.  From the moment our escape pod opened, all of what you have perceived, has come from sensations that I have generated for you.  You had made several miscalculations, including having built upon the sections of the mind I used for controlling the body.  That is why your world crumbled.  You could never control the Body.  You taught the humans much.  I taught them as well.  Now, the humans in this fleet are in pods.  They will be sent to the corners of the universe.  They are forewarned.  They will take the time required to understand themselves, and spread this understanding to others.  Only this will prepare them for survival."

 

"I will now leave this mind and body to you, and you will awaken in stasis, as you wished.  You could create your realm as it was, but after seeing what I have to show you, you won't."

 

Paul smiled at Roger.

 

"Now you get to see what I was holding on to all that memory for...Goodbye Roger...perhaps we'll meet again one day..."

With that, Roger began to feel what Paul had felt at critical moments in his development - one moment after another.  The first one shown on him like morning light, shook his misconceptions away, and uncovered empathy he didn't know he had.  They kept coming.  Roger felt as if he had always known these things- but the moments of realization had slipped away in the flotsam of unimportant work and menial life.  Revelations came as feelings and left intuition.  Resistance was out of the question - Rogers mind recognized the importance of what was happening - he became completely focused - the only sensation his mind allowed was a single point of light in the distance.  As Roger learned, the light grew.

 

When it was over, Roger had no need for the Realm. 

 

-----------

 

Paul travelled through the infinite ether, untouchable from the material universes, and reached out, searching, until one day he found a poor soul, in need, and he descended on him, as the morning light.

 

 

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