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Pattern of Infinity - Epilogue - What Man Will Become

By J. Kel
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What Man Will Become

Epilogue

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THE PATTERN OF INFINITY

By J. Kel

We know what we are, but know not what we may become.

--Shakespeare

. . . that a new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels. This appeal is sent to you only after long consideration of the immense crisis we face . . .

We ask your help in this fateful moment.

--Einstein

Is it too late to change our way of thinking?

--Edward de Bono

(a.k.a Edward the Good and Edward the Free)

 

This New Eden

As universes go, this was not so bad. Nor was it so surprising. It had long been suspected that any conceivable universe would be hard-wired for life and mind, carbon or otherwise. This was the first proof. When the wire passed through the Gateway, it arrived at a universe drawn at random, yet everything cooperated. It was a universe identical in physics to the one they had left. There were galaxies with huge dark gaps between them. There were stars and dark gaps between them. And there were planets of every allowable size and chemical composition.

In some of the galaxies there were stars stable enough for life to form. And around some of the stars, nestled in their inhabitable zones, there were planets orbiting where life could flourish. But most of all, as we are getting somewhat ahead of the story, suffused through the great spaces there was starlight. Starlight was the beginning. Starlight is what was required for the wire to begin reforming itself into the patterns of life.

When the wire passed through the Gateway, it was overwhelmingly likely it would exit into empty space. And so it did (or this would be a very short epilogue). But starlight was the true beginning. Starlight is power. Faint power indeed, but weak and rare photons impinging upon a wire as thick as a human air is still a form of power. Power, however diffuse, was all that was required to activate the structural mechanisms coded in the wire, to fold and shape it into a sail thin as a spider's web. And from there gather more starlight and power. The process was slow. But who was watching? Who was waiting impatiently? In this state suspended between matter and life, the passage of time is a void, much as the space the wire found itself in is a void. Empty and without direction. But the conventions of language compel us to say that eventually the sail began to move with direction and purpose returned.

The sail was thin, stitched of zephyr strands, held by molecular bonds, but it was strong sufficiently to get its precious cargo to a home. The sail moved, gathering momentum, and began tacking to the nearest system. In time it came upon a source of raw, cold matter, perhaps a debris field of comets or asteroids, who knows?, and it began the next phase.

It had electricity; now it had matter to consume and transform. Growth and form initiated.

First, the internal programs and tiny assembler robots transformed the asteroid, gathering and ordering molecules into myriads of worker assemblers. The first priority was to make a vast collector of light. It would be a source of power prodigious, from which mirrors would be grown; mirrors for a telescope thousands of kilometers in diameter. Mirrors for melting and forging. The asteroid was part of a belt moving in the vicinity of a brown dwarf star. When the time came some of it was converted. The raw mass became fuel for something that resembled an enormous globe, a million tons intricate perfections that was to be the starship.

In the center of the ship, its job complete, the long wire coiled itself snugly, warm and protected in its sleep.

All that was taking place now was computerized, robotized, preprogrammed. The ship itself came to a form of life, checking and rechecking its systems for the long journey ahead. The telescope brought in data; a huge network of computers digested it, interpreted it, reported on it. The ship began fueling, becoming ever larger in mass and complexity. Inside great engines were being grown and around the engines clusters of observer satellites and probes were hatched waiting for the day of their release.

The search went on. There were star clusters surrounding galaxies, and stars within galaxies, thousands of them, all to be examined. It took a while but the process was efficient. The whole of the process had been thought through long before.

Several promising star systems were located. The Entity was awakened and notified and it was pleased.

The order was given. The fuel fed the star drives, and the ship ignited the fuel, and power and light surged through the ship, and the long wire, now safely and tightly wound within it was on its way at last to a true home.

The pace quickened. The designers knew that their programs would now become, in a sense, eager. They had to be cautious with their most precious of cargoes, but the business of giving rebirth would not be delayed, and they were zeroing in on the first of the selected targets. Alas, it was too dangerous: the star given to unpredictable and spectacular x-ray bursts. It was within the design parameters, almost, but not good enough. Patience was counseled. The Entity gave the order: on to the second.

The second was a young star with several planets, the largest of them recently having drifted into the star's inhabitable region. This star was stable, so there was now excitement throughout the ship. This might well be a place where humans could live. The star was looking forward to a long adulthood. The planet itself was a muddy gas giant, larger than Jupiter, streaked with red and dark colors, grim and beaten, just shy of being a star itself. Circling it were seven moons each roughly the size of Earth. The planet had slowly migrated in from the outer regions and as it had done so the moons had come to tormented geological life. Courtesy of countless in-falling comets, there was oxygen, water. There were oceans. Now there was a livable temperature. With work, these proto-planets would see human beings walking outdoors. So the Entity concurred.

He gave the huge planet a name, in honor of the man who had started it all.

Much work lay ahead, but it was promising. All elements were in place, of this there was no doubt. The signal was given and the great ship swung into orbit around the most promising of the moon-planets ("ploonets"?).

The Entity was relieved to see its meticulous planning finally satisfied. The first thing it checked was also confirmed as being acceptable. The planet would continue its drift into its sun and would eventually be incinerated, but that was millions of years in the future. And things that far in the future were of no interest.

The huge ship inspected the system, launched the probes and satellites as it did so. The probes confirmed this "moon" would be the easiest to "terraform". The control programs went to quickly work, the Entity carefully supervising. The molecular robots entered the atmosphere -- the balance of atmospheric gases was radically altered. Plants were introduced, then microbes, then simple animals, then more complex forms and interactions. An ecology began.

Many of the life forms were from Earth, some from Auron, some from wherever. Starting an ecology is easy but managing it gets complicated fast. Correcting it, adjusting it, controlling it until it matures is an enormous undertaking, taxing even the Entity's computational resources. The Entity observed and thought and was usually satisfied but sometimes it started over. A transformation of this magnitude took time, nearly a century in fact, but it had to be done right before the other planets were attempted. On that, the Entity insisted. It was a perfectionist -- which is why it always enjoyed working with humanity. At any rate, no one was yet around to complain.

Finally, the ship its work complete, began to fission. After it sent out a myriad of probes to the whole of the system, it broke down into enormous satellite observatories, for scanning everything in near and far space, for observing weather local and solar, for studying all the myriad relationships. A vast network was formed to study not only the planets, but the solar system as a system and its place in the unknown universe beyond.

At one point, the Entity inserted ORAC into the network, assigning the task of listening: was anyone else out there? There was nothing.

It was only at the end of the process, that the Entity sent down a sphere housing the wire. The sphere bruised upon the atmosphere, skidding as it entered, made its brief fiery descent and then final plunge. A few kilometers above the surface, a parachute deployed and the sphere bounced, then rolled, and slowed to a stop in enormous green valley. A valley where earth trees and auron grasses awaited. Coming to a halt the sphere opened like an egg hatching some incredible new forms of life. Structures, an array of buildings, formed around it.

Now the Entity had to make a decision. Who to revive first? It continued to have misgivings about humanity. Most would have to be delayed for now, but one choice was special to it. The Auron children would be the first. The other? Here the Entity was as curious as it was concerned. It made the choice knowing full well it might regret it, but the human had suffered enough. And there was much the two had in common.

More buildings sprang up; worker robots were assembled; the molecular trees of knowledge were planted. It was then, their bodies repaired and restored, that the Auron children came to be once more. Dozens, hundreds, then thousands. Shelter was provided in long low buildings. There was food and clothing in abundance, followed by learning and amusements. Their bodies they discovered had been restored to perfection. But their minds were fearful and the Entity did not know how to change that.

The robots called "Herberts", which the children knew well, once again provided instruction and guidance. Civilization, after a fashion, resumed. The children soon knew what to do, but no longer were sure why. That worried the Entity. He wondered if they did not trust him.

There were no adults and there would not be any for some time and that should help. The Entity did not want to deal with adults until later. Neither did the children. It was concerned that it was viewed as an adult.

Eventually, when it was satisfied the children were doing as well as could be hoped, it brought forth its first human adult choice. So it came to be on the tranquility of this new Eden, that the pattern that had been Vila Restal was reborn to matter and form once more. And, as it should have been expected, greeted his new universe with the bat-like screeching and screaming that he had left the old one.

 


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