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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Nexus (Chapter 12)

TWELVE - END

EARTH STATUS : Reboot












----------END OF TRANSMISSION----------
 
 
 
 
Author's note:
Nexus is a story stemmed off from a super-short story called 'The Shell' which involves a journey and adventure of an information gatherer dwelling a supercomputer called Earth. The idea Earth as a unique computer has already mentioned by other authors (as also mentioned in Nexus) such as Douglas Adams in his novels. But the idea of information gatherer is entirely my own (as far as I know).
 
I do believe that we are all in a tangled mess of networks (or nexus), like the brain cells. And I do believe that if we attempt to severe the connections, the results would be very interesting: an individual entity with own knowledge and information, unable to pass to anyone else and free from encumberances.
 
Throughout the course of writing, I've made several errors. To that, I thank my dear friends Roy and Silvertongue for pointing out the flaws (indirectly) and editting them as well as taking their time to read my story. Their way of hunting clues has made me move forward and tight for a better chapter. And also, I would like to say that, this story is for my bruder (brother), an avicor, for without him, I would have lost my confidence in writing again. It's your bedtime story, my brother, if you want.
 
Lastly, to add more thrill in reading and solving riddles, here are some questions that require some proper answer. The answers are well hidden in the story. Find them out:
 
a) Why didn't Dave killed Jane in the beginning?
b) Is there any other Eraserheads besides Dave after the year 7098?
c) Where did the 42 survivors come from?
 
To me, Dave is an interesting character. I also asked myself one question: since the cryogenics knew the existence of Dave, what is Dave's future after that? Will N.O.N. remains? Does the cryogenics know about the existence of N.O.N.? How do the Superior Beings look like?
 
And most importantly, should I write a sequel to this?


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Nexus (Chapter 11)

ELEVEN - DESTABILIZING
DATE   : 21 OCT 7098
TIME   : 1342HR

She looked at the dead body on the ground. Insects already started to creep all over his body. His eyes were still wide opened in terror with a bullet hole straight into his forehead. She kicked him gently to make sure he's really dead.

"So," the man, Riev, started. "Jane Soutaine really saves us after all."

"Go and establish an uplink communicator. I need to report the status. And please, wake the others up. It's time for us to work things out," she told Riev. Riev nodded and went back to the vehicle. She caressed the dead body's face. "I am sorry I have to do this. But it's for your own good."

The dead body gradually vanished into nothing.

*

DATE   : 14 OCT 7098
TIME   : 1201HR

The vehicle started to warm her mind first. The timing has to be accurate. The orders had been sent. The protocol had to be followed. And the vehicle ran through the list of what it should do. Yes, it should warm her mind before everything else.

All 42 humans were being frozen in stasis, or simply known as cryogenics. When their body core temperature reached to almost absolute zero, they were held in time forever, as long as the caskets which contained them did not malfunction. The cruel temperature had lowered all metabolism as well as thoughts, thus the 'chain' as described by the Traveller vibrated in a much lower frequency, barely detectable by the machines which scanned for intelligence.

Now her mind temperature increased to about a thousandth Kelvin. The neurones in her brain began to active. Chemical signals started running from one terminal to another terminal. For a few hours, a sense of self was created.

She was waking up.

By now the sentient scanner should be able to pick up her brain signals. Or maybe not. But the vehicle has simultaneously warmed the remaining 41 cryogenics. That should be a strong signal for that machine to pick up.

In her mind, she smiled. She could feel the vehicle implanting a brain-computer interface. She felt the mainframe computer of the vehicle. She 'typed' the command by thinking. She needed to be exposed, something like firing a flare for anyone to see her. She assimilated herself into the vehicle. For a moment the dark line that separated the difference between organism and machine instantly vanished. Her eyes can look into the heavens and beyond. Her ears can hear the different humming of cellular walls.

And then she got blinded by a very intense light. She cleared her mind (which she couldn't differentiate whether it was her mind or the computer processor, perhaps both) after a few seconds and came to a conclusion that someone had just laser-beamed at her (or the vehicle). Someone was trying to communicate with her.

She smiled again. She was found finally. She tracked the source of the laser and found that it came from outer space. No, definitely not alien because the source was sending a heap of games and riddles to her in Common Language.

More fun, perhaps. But that could get her mind going for a while before she really get down into business. And she didn't forget her mission. At the same time she thought of a sentence and laser-beamed it back to the source. The sentence was: "I WANT TO SEE YOU".

Then she minded her own business with those games.

*

DATE   : 21 OCT 7098
TIME   : 0723HR

She had finally finished her riddles. She laser-beamed it back to the source and waited for a response. At the same time she rummaged through her mission objectives. She would never forget she was intended to do. But first, she had to lure the source first to her side. She sent another message to give whoever sending those riddles a huge mind shock, "WHO ARE YOU?"

She waited for a moment. Then she 'opened' her ears far and wide, trying to listen any details from the source. At first all she could hear was just whispers, but then it grew louder and the words she got it out from the conversation was 'Jane Soutaine'. That's it. That's the pressure point she needed to urge the source to come to her. She quickly compiled the words and sent to the source as "JANE SOUTAINE"

Ah, that should be enough to lure her prey over. Hopefully nobody had betrayed her. And she quietly and patiently waited.

*

DATE   : 21 OCT 7098
TIME   : 1004HR

The vehicle slowly increased her body temperature, attempting to wake her up fully. The guest was arriving fast. She could sense it. The vehicle also increased another man's temperature.

Two is always better than one.

*


DATE    : 21 OCT 7098
TIME    : 1400HR

The woman looked at the screen and waited the connection to stabilise. She waited and then she smiled when it was fine.

"Target terminated," she reported.

"Very well, you may have peace," the screen talked back.

"Thank you," the woman said.

The screen went black.

*

DATE    : 21 OCT 7098
TIME    : 1639HR

He woke up.

Everything was blurry to him. He could trace out the carpet and plush cushions. He saw the windows that opened to darkness and he saw a bowl of overturned strawberries.

He leapt up immediately, and he regretted that: his bones were groaning and grumbling.

As if his mind was not his own, he uttered, "Where am I?"

"Nice to meet you," a familiar male voice spoke. It was deep and gentle. And he appeared from another room. "Remember me?"

He was surprised. His leg turned into jelly. "Traveller? The Traveller? Wait, where is this place? The Spire? Where am I? A dream?" he went hysterical. This was not a joke at all. Whoever pranked him, this was not funny. He would twist anyone's neck and break them into pieces for this.

He ran to a door. He needed to get out. But where? Where can he go?

"Sit down, we have a lot to talk about," the Traveller instructed.

"No, I am not listening to you. I must be in heaven, or a residual memory from Jane Soutaine. I was shot. That Riev guy shot me. Breasts... no, no.. nipples... icy...It cannot be... it..." he couldn't take it. It felt so real.

"You have quite an interesting encounter, but hear me out please. Sit down and we'll have a talk," the Traveller offered a cushion as he sat.

He had no choice. He closed the door and went back to the cushion gingerly.

"Which part of you got shot?" the Traveller asked.

"Here," he pointed at his forehead. But then his forehead was smooth. No sign of bullet entry. "That's strange... where is the bullet hole?"

"No, there is no ordinary bullet," the Traveller said. "You took a bullet that made of a material that made me stuck here. The mirror material, remember that? I stepped on it and I am transported to a higher dimension to feel things."

He stood up immediately. "I am in a higher dimension?"

"Everything that touches the mirror material will take you to a local dimension where the mirror was made. So yes, you are being transported to a higher dimension because of that bullet," the Traveller smiled. He stood up as well, "Come here, let me show you something." The Traveller walked to the window.

He followed, as if he had a choice. He stared out into the night sky. There were no stars to be seen. But there was a very strange thing out there: a perfectly spherical, silver structure the size of a basketball held at arm's length. But the silver sphere had some flaws. When he looked carefully, the silver sphere was made out of several thousand circular bands. It's like a giant rubber band spere, only that the rubber bands were aligned in perfect parallels. The flaws he saw was some specks of dark stained on it.

"You might be wondering what's that," the Traveller said. "That is Earth, being protected by a shell. And that shell is made of mirror material. I call it quicksilver. People from the Earth or any of it's similar dimensional entities cannot see this quicksilver sphere because of it's higher dimension. It's like a picture from a flat screen can never see us, nor it can climb out from the screen. And those black specks you see are actually the pieces that fell to Earth. They solidify into visible materials as it collapsed from a higher dimension to three dimensions. That shard rocked the Earth in huge earthquakes, like the Saharan megaquake. And I stepped on it," the Traveller grinned.

"What's the use of the sphere?" he asked.

"It's just a casing. You do know that Earth is a computer, am I right? Don't ask me how I know. Your memories are dispersed on this dimension plane which I could easily pick up," the Traveller said. "You don't have to look so disgusted. Anyway, the silver sphere only encases the Earth to protect it from being contaminated from any entity from this dimension. You do know also that it was the superior beings of this dimension who created the Earth computer."

He nodded slowly. "Where's Jane?" he asked.

"Come, sit down again," the Traveller offered. "Hmm, that's an interesting topic to talk about. Pardon me if my sentences go too... messy. Ask when you need to."

"I am fine with that. Go, speak," he said.

"Ever wonder why you know so much about Jane Soutaine's stuffs even when you know that she had been 'harvested' for information? You do know that as long as Jane is not here, nobody should have known of her existence or anything that happened around her, because all information about that was with her and she is being harvested," the Traveller said.

His jaw went loose and dropped. "Then Jane is still alive somewhere... Or maybe she had passed her information to other humans."

"Yes, but not quite," the Traveller said.

"Huh?" his mind went dizzy. What did that phrase mean?

"You see, at the beginning, Jane is very problematic - I assume that you have accessed to all those information about her - and as an information gatherer, she has to know everything but there's one thing she cannot know, which is the knowledge that Earth is a computer made by the superior beings," the Traveller said.

"Yeah, I know she is problematic. She killed us all, well nearly," he said bitterly.

"No, not that problematic. She is problematic because she knew the world is a computer the moment she realised forty two square kilometres of land vanished around Sahara. She knew something is strange about Earth. This is dangerous. The superior beings overlooked at this anomaly. They had already overlooked that the quicksilver is eternally strong until it started cracking. Maybe because of this cracking, the external universe from other dimensions are able to leak in and somehow got a lock with Jane's brainwave. But even though she knows she is going to be an information gatherer, she rejected. The sense of rejection is so strong that the superior beings fear that their precious computer will collapse. If she rejects to be an information gatherer, humanity will be stagnant that nobody has new information and she has all information."

"Information dominion, huh?" he laughed. "How bad can that be? She can be queen!"

"No. Think of this, what can you offer to a mouse? Or worse, an amoeba? That's the gap we are talking about between humans if Jane is not to be taken out from the computer. Nobody could understand what she is trying to convey. And if the poor people were to group together, the force is so strong that Jane will go hysterical in this strange world condition. A psychotic environment so hostile that nobody can survive."

"I survived all those years of isolation," he said.

"It's not about isolation in this sense. It's a sense that her brain could not comprehend herself. A detachment will occur. She will have a stronger urge to be taken out from Earth. After taken out, new information can then be processed on Earth as additional stimulus might be induced by the superior beings. Certain information can be preserved. It is like a screen: when Jane leaves, it leaves behind a shadow. That shadow contains necessary information that needs to be preserved."

"Why don't she just wait for the stimulus and then leave after that? I think humanity still survive for that..." he said.

"If she's not taken out, even if there's new stimulus, it would eventually find the way to Jane, and Jane will be corrupted by information overload."

"Oh... so that's problematic..."

"No, you only know half of the story. Jane knows that Earth is not what she thinks it is, which means another thing the superior beings have overlooked. That is, Jane is an information gatherer and she also knows about the Earth is a computer. So, Dave is sent to kill her to stop her from trying to tell everyone Earth is a computer," the Traveller said.

"So Dave also knows that the Earth is computer..."

"He always knows. The Superiors designed Dave and his group of people to become Eraserheads, They are programmed to destroy any threats of people knowing the true nature of the Earth."

"But you also know that the Earth is a computer and you are not killed by Dave!" he exclaimed.

"Supposedly, after the earthquake happened at Sahara, I should be deleted from this computer. But somehow the Superiors sensed that Jane also knew about the anomaly and the trouble of her spilling out her concerns might spark and uncontrol loop that the computer will never find its solution. She has to be killed and I have to be deleted. When they realise that the Eraserheads are taking action, the Superior got relieved. But there was nobody else to delete me, because I stepped on the mirror before they eliminate me. I got travelled to this dimension and the Superiors were horrified. I am not the information gatherer, so I shouldn't be here, and they sent me down but since I cannot go back down as before like a normal human because of the dimension travel has altered my physics, I am elected by the Superiors to ferry all the information gatherers. I become the link between dimensions. Thus my secret building of the Spire nobody saw it. It is because the matter it was used to build was... enigmatic."

"So Dave cannot kill you because you become more powerful than him?"

"No, he doesn't recognise me as a threat. He only recognises me as a new software input for the computer. So I don't care about him and so does he," the Traveller said.

"But Jane... how? She is an information gatherer which the Superiors wanted her, but she is wanted dead by Dave..."

"That's why I've said she is problematic. But during the confrontation happened here whereby Dave pointed a gun on her skull, she had made a stunning move. She blacked out my Spire and descended to Earth with all the information and knowledge bestowed upon her."

"She had so much time to do so many things?"

"Like I said, she made a stunning move. Nobody expected her to do that. Nobody knew what was going on. She wanted to save humanity and wanted to save her own life. She wanted to warn the people about the danger of Earth being a computer. If she were to stay by my side a little longer, Dave couldn't kill her, because Jane and I would be transitioning to a higher dimension, which Dave could not tolerate as he only exists on Earth," the Traveller said.

"But she chose to risk her life and save humanity rather than be an information gatherer to fulfill her task," he said.

"Yes, especially not everyone has the chance to come to a higher dimension and meet someone so godlike," the Traveller said.

"How many information did the so-called Superiors harvested?" he asked.

"Less than ten. The last one wiped out the dinosaurs," the Traveller said.

"So Jane is the first human who is an information gatherer?"

"Species doesn't matter to the Superiors," the Traveller replied.

"And you interpreted that Jane is still alive somewhere?"

"Yes," the Traveller answered.

"Then what the hell am I doing here?" he asked. "You said she is alive, go find her then. Why me? I am not an information gatherer. I am not the one you look. Why the woman killed me? Are they the Eraserheads?"

"Dear, they are not the Eraserheads. They are the survivors. You saved humanity," the Traveller smiled widely.

"Me? You are talking nonsense now," he was surprised.

"Someone knew you have to be 'harvested'. You have to die in some way to prevent the knowledge of Earth as a computer to be spread like wildfire, but at the same time the Superiors want you."

"Me?" he repeated.

"But now the computer has just got its new stimulus, which is the survivors already knew your existence but they will never know they are living as parts of a computer," the Traveller still smiling widely.

"Me?" he stuttered.

"Dear, you are Jane Soutaine. You turned into a man and hide from us for many years, altering your memory to elude us and that's your stunning move."

*
 
DATE    : 31 MAR 4984
TIME    : 1722HR
VENUE   : SPIRE

"You knew too much," Dave said, with a gun pointing at her head.

She remembered the special materials made up the ground. Quickly she spun around, hacked Dave's hand with her bare hands. Dave howled in pain as his gun dropped to the ground. She kicked him hard on his belly till he bent double and went unconscious. She thought of an electromagnetic pulse bomb with a simple switch to flick.

And the bomb really appeared next to her. Perfectly spherical and silver, just like she had imagined.

"Jane, do not do this," the Traveller warned.

"I don't fuckin' care. This has to stop," she went to flick the switch. But there was a huge rumbling noise and the ground shook. She was swept off the feet by that massive quake.

"We are moving to a better regime. The engine seems to be better than I've thought," the Traveller wondered.

"What the fuck are you talking about?" she screamed.

"You are going to be harvested, silly," he smiled, "Harvested at a higher dimension.

"Fuck you, this shit is not going to happen."

"If you remains in your dimension, Dave will kill you. If you choose to leave, you are being..." he lost for the word. He struggled a little and came up with a worse word, "appreciated. All the chains bound between you and a zillion other things will snap and you will be free."

"Fuck you, Traveller. You are playing games with me and I am going to end this right here, right now," she stretched her hand and flicked the switch.

Everything went black. All electronics are fried. She could hear the engine sputtered and ignited in definite staccatos. She presumed they were all trapped in the transition between her own plane of universe to the higher dimensional universe.

She felt her mind ache. It's not a headache, but brain ache. There are no pain receptors in her brain, but why is this happening?

She groaned.

Probably a process of being harvested.

"Need to escape..."

And she did. She summoned four hundred cubic metres of the floor and transformed it into a medical ship to descend to Earth before it's too late for her to return. And at the same time, she performed a surgery on herself. She needed to save the humans. She needed to be there on Earth.

She couldn't just leave Earth.

*

DATE    : 21 OCT 7098
TIME    : 1415HR
VENUE   : NEAR-ORBIT NEXUS (N.O.N.)

The servitor wheeled restlessly at the hall. It panicked and it was very impatient. Yes, yes, it got the news from Earth but now it had to calm itself down.

A display screen came alive. It couldn't see the face, but the sound was struggling to emanate from the speakers.

It held a microphone and spoke, "Jane Soutaine has been eliminated, My Lord."

There was a loud hissing voice at the background. After a huge sigh of relieve, it replied:

"Well done, Dave."

Monday, August 6, 2012

Nexus (Chapter 10)

TEN - STABILIZING

Date   : 7098 A.D.

"Fuck," he murmured. He would have yelled on that word, but right now his head ringing with immense pain. It's like someone slammed on a tuning fork and placed it into his grey brain porridge, sending high frequency waves echoing between the brain mass.

The memory ended. That's all the servitor could give.

"Fuck," he said it again. His ears were bleeding. He felt the warm red liquid dribbled down to his jaw. He never thought that memory implantation and retrieval could be that bad. But wait, he noticed something. His weight had increased a lot and an invisible force was pressing him against the cushion. He looked at the display board and digested the data feed.

"Fuck," he said that for the third time.

It wasn't the memory implantation and retrieval process that hurt him. It was his shuttle. He was descending too fast: turbines error on both sides. And now losing altitude wasn't his best day at all. His shuttle was still in hypersonic speed. He needed to slow it down or else he would not land on Earth, but smash on Earth.

"Hello? Do you copy?" he picked up a communicator and spoke through it, hoping to reach the servitor to assess the damage or possibly send a rescue probe to save him. But all he could hear was a static buzz on the other end. He checked the antennae.

There was no antennae. All of them had snapped during the atmospheric entry. It could be one of the Near-Orbit Nexus hubs grazed on his shuttle and resulted in such damage. He gasped in for air. He felt he was being threatened right now.

Wait, he had parachutes for the shuttle. He raced his fingers across the display board and issued a command to release sequential parachutes to slow down his ever-speeding shuttle.

He felt a jerk. His body sank into the cushion once more and then relieved and then held back again. The first parachute deployed, but it was torn because of the wind currents and some unexplainable dust particles. Most probably the particles were part of his shuttle debris. Second set of parachutes deployed. And that held the shuttle for some time, reducing its speed to supersonic. He steered his shuttle so that he could round the Earth again and again to wait for speed reduction instead of head-smashed on the hard ground.

Mental calculation revealed that by the fifth set of parachutes, he could land safely. He noted his mind with the word 'safely' but not 'properly'. It would be a hard bounce and crash on the rainforest ground. And fortunately, he did it. The nose of his shuttle came off and the wings were horribly snapped off.

He stepped out of the shuttle and let himself into a deep silence, thinking the way to repair this shuttle and fly back to where he came from. He looked around. Yes, a few kilometres from where he stood, there would be the black vehicle he intended to explore. Maybe he could salvage some metal parts for his shuttle repair.

He began to walk to the black vehicle.

His holographic watch told him the time was 3.42pm when he arrived at the big black vehicle. It was strangely militaristic. Four pair of six-foot diameter wheels jutted out from left and right side, making it to have a total of sixteen wheels. There was no window but crystal blue line streaked at parts where there should be headlights, door and rear lights. The line glowed and dimmed periodically. And he could hear the engine hummed.

The vehicle was alive.

He touched the vehicle. It was smooth and cold. Very, very cold. He could see some frost accumulating at some parts of the vehicle.

Suddenly, a door appeared. It was very dreamy the way it opened. First, he saw a darker rectangle faded into his vision and then the rectangle eased away to reveal its contents.

He was very shocked. Almost four dozen humans were nested inside and they were all naked and asleep. He thought of the cryogenic sleep, or suspended animation. This people survived for how long? He wondered.

Then, one of the most seductive woman woke up. Black-brown hair and fairly tanned skin, she was quick to adapt. She removed the wires attached to her mind. Her breasts were covered in tiny icicles and as she walked, frosty air emanated from her.

There were forty two of them in the vehicle, including the woman who just awoke. So that's why the machine told him that there was a sentient being with impressive mind mass. It was an accumulation of all forty two humans inside.

He stepped back as she stepped out from the vehicle. She carried thin rectangular electronic device and he guessed it was some kind of tablet computer.

"Place your palm here," the woman had a very strident tone.

He was utterly surprised. He could not say anything. He saw another guy woke up. His naked physique was impressive. He took out a gun. and walked out from the vehicle as well.

Shit. Why didn't he bring his own gun as well?

"I do not like to repeat orders, mister," the woman warned. "Place your palm here or Reiv is going to shoot you."

He saw no choice. He stretched his shaky palm to the woman. He didn't know what he wanted to do. He kept staring at her voluptuous breasts. He wanted to touch her iced breasts and nipples. Maybe his palm was warm enough to...

The woman grabbed his hand and pressed it hard against the tablet. He felt something prickled into his skin and saw the tablet not only scanned his palm prints but also taken blood samples from him.

Few minutes or seconds later - he couldn't be sure - an alert noise interrupted the atmosphere. The woman stared down at her tablet and she trembled ever so slightly. He swore he could see her breasts pulsed.

"Shoot him," the woman said.

Before he could say or run, the man raised his gun and fired.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Nexus (Chapter 9)

NINE - JANE SOUTAINE VII

"Tell me, what do you know about the number 42?" Jane asked. She tried mentally conjuring a basket of strawberries on her left. And the strange thing happened: the floor opened a gash and a basket of red, juicy strawberries emerged from beneath. She picked up one, smelled it and licked it, hoping it wasn't anything poisonous.

"It's edible," the Traveller nodded. "I know about the significance of 42, but it was you who found out another meaning of 42. Impress me the thing you found on Sahara years ago."

"Your number 42 refers to an ancient literature about the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything written by a guy from twenty or twenty-first century. His name is Douglas Adams, I think. He wrote a book about science fiction and there is one huge computer computing the answer for that ultimate question, and after millions of years of calculating, the number just pops up 42," she bit onto the strawberry. Juice began to dribble down her chin. She wiped it hastily with a napkin provided.

"And go on..." the Traveller seemed amused.

"And there poses a larger question: what's was the question for the 42? And Earth was being used as a computer to calculate it. But it was destroyed by an alien before the answer is finalised," Jane said. "But my 42 has nothing to do with it."

"Of course, but your 42 is actually an anomaly existed in your research, am I correct?" the Traveller smiled.

She was taken aback. "How do you know?"

"It was an indication that 42 square kilometres of land vanished. Or should I say the Earth has shrunken as the 42 square kilometres of land was taken away?" the Traveller leaned to her. "Your 42 really has something to do with the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."

"What do you mean?"

"The Earth is a computer designed to collect numerous data. I did not make the Earth. Someone superior has made it. Someone's power so great and vast that there is no match. It's an alien so intelligent that we could never see how it look like. It designed this computer and we are the couplets carrying information packets from one individual to another."

"You're crazy."

"As information travels from one person to another, some people are doomed to forget and some are doomed to remember. The computer model is simple but yet very, very complex. Everything you perceived through five senses are actually data retriever through five realms of data. Each combination gives you a special feedback. That feedback is going to be perceived by another as only either one senses. And he will couple it up and to send to another as another feedback."

"I don't follow you, Traveller."

"Take this example: You ate an apple. You saw it, you tasted it, you smelled it, you touched it and you even heard the crunch of the bite. Five inputs of this data is entered to your brain. And now, as the chain theory goes, you must affect other things, but one of the strongest things you can find is another human. You approach me, for example. Then you tell me the qualities of the apple you ate. I only hear you say, therefore only one input, at the same time I might be drinking juice. The other sensory inputs will combine with your apple input and form a new output. Then I find another to tell this two inputs. The process goes on and on until..."

"Until there is only one who gathers all the inputs," Jane spoke softly.

"Yes. We call that the information gatherer. And somehow this superior being wanted this information badly. So they need to harvest it," the Traveller said.

"Why? What is the significance?"

"I am not one of them, Jane," the Traveller shrugged.

"So the videos you showed me, the humans are forgetting stuffs and they become slower and slower, and some even lost their ability to speak. Is it because the humans are deteriorating because more and more information is passed on to the one higher up in the hierarchy? Until to a point that there is only one left while the rest is left with only empty shells with no souls? Is this the end of humanity as you named it?" Jane shuddered at such thought.

"Unfortunately, yes. Humans have no more knowledge and information to take care their young. They don't even know how to have young. The knowledge killed them, Jane. There's nothing you and I can do," the Traveller said sadly.

"You could have told everyone!" Jane burst out.

"I only knew when I stepped on the mirror and felt everything around me," the Traveller said apologetically.

"That was years before you know me!" Jane said angrily. She could have saved someone. Maybe she can bring someone out from Earth or put them into cryogenic sleep so that no more information can be passed to them, She wanted to have her DNA spliced and reintegrated to create more individuals since humanity is going to end. She didn't want this to happen.

"Something strange will happen if I were to tell them," the Traveller said.

"How strange?" Jane stood up and threw the basket of strawberries away in great fury. The fruits smashed into pulps and gradually dissolved onto the grey floor. "How strange could it be to just tell people?"

She heard a click at the back of her skull and something hard and metallic was jammed on to her scalp. "Hello, Jane," a voice spoke out.

"How strange? This strange," the Traveller crossed his legs calmly.

The person behind the gun - most probably a gun - was her most fear.

"You knew too much," the voice said.

It was Dave.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Nexus (Chapter 8)

EIGHT - JANE SOUTAINE VI
"That would depend on how you define God," the Traveller smiled. "But one thing that I am very certain is, I am omniscient and omnipresent. I experience many things in a same instant. Not bound by physics constraints and constants. Not bound by the speed of light. I became limitless."

"The grids... you are standing at all of them?" Jane asked.

"No, not all of them, silly. My smallest indivisible units are limited. But yes, I can feel everything around me."

"Where were you that time?" Jane asked.

"Everywhere."

"I want to see that mirror you claimed you stepped on," Jane requested. "I wonder how such a mirror could fall from the sky and make you live in fantasies."

"Do you know anything about artificial simulation?" the Traveller asked.

Jane nodded. She wanted to answer but the ground was shaking at a very high frequency. "What is going on?" she managed to squeak like a rat.

"We are switching engines. We are moving to a much better regime," he replied.

"Where are we going? It's almost two millenia and if we were already moving the moment I was - what - a cryogenic angel, we should reach at least nineteen hundred light years away from Earth," Jane said.

"We are still near Earth, but we are moving into something far stranger that light years would not be the best measure to measure distance. Fear not, it would take another thousand of years to move," the Traveller said.

"You still haven't answered my question: where are we going?"

"You will get to know soon," he replied. He conjured a dashboard from the ground. It rose from that seamless tiled floor and opened into an array of controls. He ran his fingers on the screen and turned the screen off. "Where was I?"

"Artificial simulation," Jane said.

"Ah yes..." he paused. "I am not sure how to put it in an orderly manner, but I hope you can follow me."

"I am okay with it."

"What is the fastest computer in the world?" the Traveller asked.

"Quantum computer, maybe in the future we might forge a neutron computer, or a quark computer. Or as my speculation goes right, we might also have a singularity computer which permits information to trap between past and future states."

"Actually those computers are already made," the Traveller said. "Now ever remember a movie franchise from the 21st century? Something about machine intelligence take over humanity and with those martial art skills the heroes try to liberate the controls by the machines?"

"Something called the Matrix, I think," it was such a long time ago. Jane could hardly remember even the cartoon she had watched when she was a girl. She stopped. "Wait, are you telling me that I am living in an artificial simulation and we are controlled by machines?"

"No, no, no," the Traveller laughed. "Now, evolution of life from 4.6 billion years ago till now, life as ascended from the most primitive and sessile form to the most agile and intelligent ones. We, being the superior organism, begin the understand everything around us, acting like we are on top of the animal and plant kingdoms. But what is it that is so different from us to the unicellular microbes?"

"We being intelligent?" Jane suggested.

"Define intelligent. You have the machine to detect sentient or sapient life. How do you detect them? It is the brain, Jane. The brain and its discrete components that occupy the grid. The more intelligent you are, the stronger the chain your mind can connect to things. Like the apple and orange. If the orange is in another room, the apple cannot affect its behavior, unless the apple has a mind that deepens the groove of the grid, making a canal to the orange. Our mind is like that, Jane."

"Okay, so our mind has a significant 'mindprint' on the grid and send vibration shocks throughout. At a certain intelligence level, the vibration can be picked up, for example, by our machines here."

"Yes, now that means the microbes have very very weak chains between them and the grid, but that didn't stop them. Throughout geological timespan, the new and improved breed always takes over the poorly managed one. And it was as though we are the apex. The tip. The tip of everything else." The Traveller made some subvocal commands to his bracelet. In a short moment, two drinks were set up. "Have a drink, it's going to be a long chat."

She took the drink and as though the room knew her needs, a red cushion rose from the grey ground, like liquid solidifying. She sat down and sipped her drink. Orange juice. "If you theory is correct, then each of us have a very deep or thick chain connecting our minds together."

"Precisely! I am proud of you Jane. You are really a genius!" the Traveller exclaimed. "So, may I ask, what do Men do?"

"Live and die?" she answered after giving it some thought.

"They comunicate with each other. They transmit messages. They show emotions. They write. They work. Even dying will send vibration shocks to other minds to react accordingly. So basically, what they do, is still like microbes, which microbes live, feed, mate and die according to the surrounding."

"So there is not much difference in defining intelligence, is there? It's just how thick the chains are between... things," Jane said.

"Yes, yes!" the Traveler laughed. "It's like you cannot define what's cold and what's hot. It is just a temperature with various degree. You might say the sun is hot, but there are stars which are thousand times hotter! It's a relative comparison, you see!"

"And does this have to do with artificial simulation?" Jane asked.

"A little," the Traveller replied with a slight nod. He conjured a plate of chocolate chips cookies on the table. "Here, help yourself. I bet you are hungry."

"Thank you," but she didn't take. "Can you just... ask anything from this ship?"

"Yes, but with limits, of course. The Spire cannot grow you a sun if you demand it!" the Traveller said.

"Wait, wait," Jane nearly choked on the chips. "You mean we are now at the Spire? The Spire in Singapore? The hotel? The driver took me here?"

"Yes, it's a camouflage ship built by someone not of Dave's men," the Traveller replied.

"Dave..." she echoed.

"We'll come to that soon. But first, remember what's 42?" he winked.

"Again that number..." Jane sighed.

"Yes, the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything..." the Traveller said.

"It's not just that..." Jane said.

"Yes," he agreed. "It's not just that."

He sipped a red juice that looked like blood.