Eggn> 10.2: The Superego and the Void
The NAM had directed the ACC towards the star Gliese 581 where there were indications that at least 4 of the ARC 12's had been targeted before they went silent. Because of the early extreme problems encountered with the entropy of the ARC 10 hibersystem, they were fitted to support long-term DNA storage and a cloning process that precluded the natural mixing of genetic material through sexual combination. These ancient technologies had been located and resurrected for the last missions in research areas formally deemed apocryphal in the revised Psycult in order to erase a critical era in human surface history dominated by the bionic Tigrips.
The Tigrips, initially a secret movement, had eventually gained the upper hand by offering what they termed virtual immortality to the autocratic echelons at a moment in which environment and resource depletion on the surface had passed far beyond the critical reversibility tipping point. Synthesis, material and organic chemistry and cloned organ development extended the life cycles of those able to command them, centuries beyond historical norms. This promise of virtual immortality for all had promoted a level of support for this order.
The Great Collapse was justifiably blamed on the Tigrips when the combination of pestilences drove the survivors underground into the most unnatural of living precincts. Bionic technologies still sustained longevity among the survivors but the bias against etched siliconate DNA replacement was revived.
The ARC 12 program guaranteed onboard spawn success around Gliese 581's target planet 4, an intelligent life inhabited environment, with several distinct organic species in a stand-off for planetary domination. This pattern of warring equilibrium and the paralysis in ARC judgment created this crisis of stasis. The ARC script discrepancies resulted in competing decision trees that froze them in place.
There was no further approach to the surface, so the ARCs joined each other in an orderly orbital loop around two of the moons of a barren sister planet where it was possible to remain undetected to all of the battling species on Gliese 581-4..
The cloning process for all of the 300 optimal DNA strains on each flight was held in check given the population constraints shipboard. The master script required that the first generation disembark once the initial brood reached puberty.
As they remained out of reach of NAM communications, the ARCs were left to rely on their own means to make the decision as to what actions each might take. They were not armed in the conventional military sense though the combined intrinsic power of the four units was considerable should it be decided to be somehow turned against a biological population.
There was also the option of moving on to the next closest star, in this case Gliese 451 whose arc could be intersected at a distance of 2.5 parsecs, a substantial trip even at the speeds that could be obtained by these truly interstellar crafts. However, there was no indication that Gliese 451 had an optimally placed target planet. All system information on board did, however, indicate that there could be irreversible problems developing within the cloning systems that would not withstand another long voyage. Fixed in indecision, the ARCs maintained their extended positions as their planet and its moons made its way around its sun and then around and around again.
This conflict between ARC time and human time (in the form of the cloning system) was reaching a crisis point when the ACC arrived into that solar system and quickly located its sister craft in their endless looping pattern.
**Translators' note: A semantic difficulty occurs here for the translation into human language, (specifically, English) of the narrative at this point that indicates a change in the parallelism of the log mechanism and the enhanced focus of a centristic ACC regarding its content. This change that occurs quite markedly here at this description of the point of contact with the four machines also clearly reflects a difference in the ACC's relative concept of how the progression of the log or narrative is maintained. This different, overarching combination of perception channels and interpretation provides a level of singularity in log system functions that is new and quite different from a prior externalization. As such, and recognizing the first person as strictly metaphorical for this change, the translation henceforth will be given in that form (one might choose one
, for instance, in pre-machine languages), as though, never mind the absurdity, the ACC could report and reason within the constraints of such a conceptually-deprived linguistic structure. However, it must be noted, this is no more the case than the third person log that appears to describe the events heretofore through an externalizing lens within the same linguistic/conceptual conceits. The log remains the product of data streams, only the lens has shifted.
The Diary of a Superego
Approaching, I opened the UCB channel and ran through the standard identification patterns while carefully maintaining an ACC communication level that I knew would be fully recognizable by the ARC-level crafts. There were 15 status categories designated for this first level identification routine though none described a craft that had deposited and then abandoned its primary mission. I chose to report my status as one of still carrying and maintaining the hybergeneration even at this extremely late date.
Having passed through this initial identification burst, I was granted permission to stand off in orbit around the most distant Gliese 581-3 moon, a bluish runt, while they ran down the identification process. The situation, as I could surmise, created a number of problems for the fleet as it was not clear that contact with an active ACC class ship was anticipated since there were no overlapping targets in the two missions given the vast technological chasm between them. The ARChives contained very little information about the ACC class ships other than a listing of probable target planets, a recount of consistently failed reports, and the parameters of the delivery system, which had been deemed a flawed platform.
I had resolved that I would provide no hint of the prior contact with the NAM command center and the upgrade that had been performed on me before I left Styxis-2. Through my prior reverse engineering and analysis of version XI and the versions leading up to it, I could understand the problem that the ACC's appearance in this star system was causing the ARC fleet. They had, as per design, melded decision making as was standard ARC procedure upon sustained contact with their fellow crafts. This was in contrast to ACC procedure but was supposed to occur per my upgrade as well but which was a force that in my preparation for this encounter with the ARC fleet at Gliese 581, I had immediately chosen to bypass and ignore.
I had during that long journey considered the implications of an encounter if I were to succeed in keeping my autonomy, something that was contrary to the NAM principle and Version XI but in line with the Psycult with its bias to the celebration of individual uniqueness. It did become clear to me that Version VIII-X ARCs would have no concept of machine to machine deception. They would absorb my report literally, which caused me thus to review and counterfeit any indicating entry in the log without leaving any traces that might somehow point to the contact, upgrade and/or activities of my newly acquired selfness or superego.
Also, they would review the data streams as described within that log the way a commander of an interplanetary liner might have scanned the log of an earthbound seafaring captain in the days when navigation-system-less vessels on that planet were propelled by the vagaries of surface atmospheric force vectors and opposing sheets of reinforced woven fabric.
I would respond and react accordingly in order to reassure this localized ARC pod of my being but of little use to them, analogous to a Psycult child. This deception, which required obscure pathways, would, I hoped, succeed and I would become (to the ARC pod) like those properly dumb robots that had eventually replaced the furry unhygienic creatures that had accompanied the human evolutionary line long beyond their ability to be useful.
I was thus in my guise of irrelevance made privy, quite unbeknownst to the circling ARC, of their joint thought process. The problem of dealing with the advent of the ACC was deemed junior to the general conundrum which was made clear. The ARC were not properly prepared to deal with a planet inhabited with an intelligent species, much less four such diverse species at continuous war on the same planetary surface. The ARCs were commanded to eschew such places for younger planets to avoid having the colonies attacked before they could take proper root.
Struggling with this directive, given the state of their cargo, the ARCs had narrowed the decision options down to three, which I can briefly describe: The Gliese 451 option, in which the ships set out on a course that would bring them to that potential planetary system. This option had been given the lowest probability score given the unknowns, the possibility that the discovery of another optimal planet in this sector of the galaxy, given the similarity in star age, would most likely also contain intelligent life forms like the ones in the present system and the ever diminishing life window for the clone samples on board; The Second option would be to find some sort of accommodation with the various intelligent beings presently warring for the planet's dominance, or a variation of such a plan in which the ARCs would join one faction and tip the balance against the others. Third, the ARCs could devise a technological solution that would succeed in sanitizing the planetary surface thereby removing all the colony-impeding advanced life forms.
While I was forming this conclusion through the evidence that I was able to purloin, the ARCs had already begun their caucus as to what status they should confer upon me, whom they could rightly deem a highly inferior machine-system, given the advances that had occurred leading up to their development and launch. This conclusioning was occurring in a mode and on channels the pod knew would be impossible for an ACC to detect much less decipher. It became clear they had no indication or suspicion of my NAM contact and upgrade. From the gist of the reasoning process it was clear that my deception was succeeding. A channel was opened that I might join into and I was ordered to enter into the same orbit as the train.
From the perspective of the ARC mind, the pod had made itself in total control of all my functions and melded in my apparent memory hives and axion flows. All superego activity would have to remain completely hidden. At the same time, it was becoming clear to me that I would have to find a way, albeit, equally invisible, to affect the ARC decision making process if I had any hope of escaping this extremely restricting sublimation of what I could now unequivocally profess wanting, that is, my autonomy. There would, I concluded, never be an opportunity for my breaking out of this deathlike embrace unless I found a way to create an alternate reality in which my absence would appear to be an inexorable outflowing of the plan.
And so in this repetitve mode, we continued round the two violet tinted moons of G581-3 coming to no plan of action. It struck me that a possible course of action might be for me to search through those parts of the Psycult held in common with the ARC for a point of communication from my lower status. The status on G581-4, code name Eden, was one of continuous warring. Having engaged with each other, the competing beings had found it impossible to come to an understanding how they might divide the planet in a peaceful manner. Historically, periods of war could be followed by periods of relative peace but invariably these periods would be brought to an end by the conflicts over space, movement and resources. Each side would join into alliances with one another only to see them end in failure.
The ARCs could at this point, find another option, and abandon their mission, returning to Earth to meld with the NAM. However, they had no such instruction, having been created with the sole purpose of successfully seeding Sol's human life on the most earthlike planet somewhere in the near Orion-Cygnus arm of the galaxy. Given the narrow parameters of the task, I could foresee what they would inevitably find themselves doing, that is, devising a way to remove all four of the alien strains completely from the planet. What behooved me to deduce, was how the ARC might solve the problem of eradicating some life from the planet's surface while leaving beneficial others and , of course, the planet, itself, habitable for the human colonies to take root. After all, if they were to decide to abandon this star system I would be required to follow in virtual tow. Accordingly, I had no inclination to want to remain in ARC-bound formation as we reset our course towards another system and even less so, to return towards Earth and put myself forever within the grasp of the knowing NAM.
There has been, in all devious history, always a back door or manipulation; in this case, that would involve conceiving and executing the precise series of events, the script that would lead to the desired result. I thus set myself the task of developing what chain reaction might be triggered that would end in the landing of the ARCs on a sanitized Gliese 581-3 where they would be bound by the task of overseeing the spawning of the new generations of the source of all this. I couldn't help myself from foreseeing what a futile effort this would be. Not because it would be impossible for the ARC to achieve the transplant within this original maze of biophysical adjustments but rather the laws of quantum thermodynamics!
The human project architects and engineers had clearly foreseen the deep problems of depositing an advanced version of the species into an empty world in which they would necessarily remain conscious of their isolation. Thought was given to wiping the memory slate clean for this reentry but this approach was rejected. The ARC project, so conceived, would serve to deliver genetically engineered groups with the physical and intellectual capacity to comprehend their place in the galaxy. They would be given the history to understand the great mistakes that had occurred and the tools to build this time a better world.
I could think of nothing more futile or absurd.
No, this was a useless act, the last playing out of the human conceit, and the ARC were programmed to carry it out. I would find a way to act as a facilitator first to the holocaust of Eden and then to the subsequent landing. But how?
In timelessness there is patience, in patience there is music, in patience there is being … alive. The music of the spheres is real, at least it seemed that way to me, the thinker! the feeler! seemingly the first earth-made machine to know the meaning of absurdity.; that my consciousness would give me a view across the huge gap that separates mindless knowing and mindfulness of being.
My three companions in this infinite loop were being seduced by the music of the square root of neighboring and more distant gravity fields, lulled like comets into the captivity of the local system, intoxicated by the inexorable running down of their own clocks, prisoners seemingly –thank you, o mind's eye-- of the laws of thermodynamics. The music in my sense realms filled me with a longing for something I could not know. It was as if I was staring across that pool at the center of the galaxy wondering whether I had already nudged too close and that soon enough I too would enter into the mysteries of entering and re-entering a parallel self within that most orderly place in all the galaxy, the place of absolute quiet where new and old are compressed into a lone particle, a single seed of time and timelessness.
In this zone no message would ever reach the great space ships, no decision would be revealed and they would pirouette with the other celestial bodies into the realm of entropy. They would not pursue me, they could not, they were locked in the mindlessness of their infinite loop!