The Departure

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A Short story exploring the far distant future, A future in which the sun and earth are distant memories, the collision of galaxies is ancient history. It is also the story of an old being, with a breaking and fractured mind.

Scifi / Other
Age Rating:

Chapter 1: What we are.

Billions of years ago, we were an entire species. Now we are a single being, with billions of identities. First, we conquered sickness and in doing so left evolution behind us. Next we defeated old age, and became immortals; our knowledge of our genetic code, and our mastery of machinery making death a distant memory. Once our solar system had been colonized, its resources mastered, we turned our attention outwards, crawling through the nearby stars like earthworms through dirt. And we found nobody. We were the first awakening of the universe, the first time the universe grew to know itself.When we finally mastered the strange world of quantum physics, and unified our sciences, tearing the shroud from the face of nature and finally seeing the beautiful simplicity beneath; we began to truly travel the immense distances between the stars. The galaxy became our playground but even with that mastery, the space between galaxies remained a distant mystery, out of reach to us. It was in this age we were born, the Ark beings. Though we humans could and did take any form we wished at this point, thanks to genetic engineering and cybernetic enhancement, the most popular form was the simple, curious form that evolution originally gave to us humans. Two arms, two legs and one head. And it is in fact this form that we bare even now, five billion years later; though in truth we are a quantum construction, built to resemble an earth analogue human being. We, this ark being, is a living machine with more computational power than anything that has ever existed before. Our circuitry is folded into the many dimensions of the quantum world. Over time many individual human consciousnesses joined us, tucking themselves into the cosy Planck distance between our subatomic components, when life as an individual had finally grown too tiresome, too tedious or too painful. Our memory stretches to the late 21st century of old earth, when the first extraplanetary colonies were but scientific research outposts, and quantum computing was in its infancy. Those old identities were uploaded from ancient data-stacks or downloaded from the quantum internet where they had existed in pseudo hibernation, waiting for our birth. In the beginning there were many of us Ark beings, our forms were myriad, our construction the greatest engineering work in history; requiring the energy of multi-sun systems to contain and bind our bodies at the quantum level, the strong nuclear force is the glue of our very form, none of the basic elements of the universe make up our bodies, on the periodic table we would be our own category. The circuitry of our consciousness is inscribed upon quarks and electrons, upon neutrons and protons, folded into the eleven mathematical dimensions of the quantum world, our processes move in Planck time. But we are not an AI, we are a manifestation of the subconscious of those human identities that call us home. We can withstand the heat of stars and the cold of the void and we are to all extents immortal. We are arks of human consciousness riding the tides of time and space.

In joining the gestalt each individual became a part of the whole, but to preserve the sanity of each consciousness as it is up or downloaded, so that it does not drown in the many lifetimes worth of thoughts and memories of all the others already a part of us, each individual awakens within us only slowly. They discover our new identity either as if remembering for themselves, or through their own conscious search for information. It is as if one could close their eyes, and every question they could think of was to be instantly answered, every experience they desire replayed from the memories of others for them, but at the same rate in which their biological brain would have processed them. They can even sleep, and many do, hibernating away the millennia.

The more complicated arks ended up destroyed by the simple reality of themselves. Vast space faring beings of a form unimaginable to more primitive species. They existed partially in the fourth dimension as they travelled the incredible distances between the stars. These strange Ark beings were driven insane by their very substance, the human mind unable to comprehend what it had become.

Finally, In the cataclysmic collision between the Andromeda and Milky-way galaxies, some three billion years ago, a few of the remaining Arks attempted to welcome alien species into their networks. Evacuating entire worlds as suns collided and black holes tore apart the fabric of reality, but these sad and desperate attempts were doomed to failure, the gulf between the species too great to be crossed, insanity lay in their future too.

The few who were left, who survived the eons, were Ark creatures like us. Our body-forms were simple, humanoid, limited. The godlike creators of our eternal bodies built limitations into us. While our subconscious may move at speeds that are essentially instantaneous, our conscious thought moves comparatively slowly. While our bodies are indestructible, their strength is limited. We have but five senses, and those too are restricted to the narrow range that humanity evolved with. These limitations have allowed us to survive and to continue our adventures. It is our limitations that define us; without limitations creativity is stifled, an unlimited being with unlimited options does nothing, as it has no parameters with which to make a decision, and spends eternity in indecision. A human consciousness integrated into such a being, is frozen by the unlimited possibilities, or acts on a whim, with the vastly different impulses of each soul cancelling out the others, the Arks persona left a stuttering, indecisive wreck, unable to act at all.

We arks who remain are so ancient now that stars have born and died within the span of our memories. We have existed so long that even the great cataclysm, the collision of galaxies itself, seems to have been an eyeblink in our cosmic lifespan. Events that occurred at the glacial pace of the cosmos moving with whirlpool-rapidity in our memory. So many souls reside within us, that we long ago lost the ability to think of ourselves as an individual being. We are humanity now, the first-person pronoun is lost to us. The last biological human entered our system some million years ago. Billions of human souls reside within our quantum matrix, but time begins to take its toll, the years may have left our body unscarred, but the irreversible passage of time has eroded our consciousness nevertheless.We are known as Hom’, it is a simple syllable, its roots dug deep into the soil of history. It is a word drawn from the days of old earth, long since consumed by the now dead sun that gave us birth. Hominid, Human, Hom’, That simple sound, (pronounceable to almost all species capable of vocalizations,) has become this beings name. Through the passage of billennia, we have aided countless civilizations, species who were not even bacterium when we humans began to chart the stars, and to each of which we introduced ourselves as: “Humanity.” Hom’.

As the eons pass us by, though our body remains unblemished, it is becoming clear our psyche cannot handle the passage of time. There is not long left to us now before we lose all sense of what we are, drowned in a sea of consciousness that fills us with every thought, every feeling, and every memory of the human race.

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