Tuesday, April 21, 2009

life ™

The night was falling on the ancient Soldar plain like lush velvet. The slopes of the Malditos were bathing in the last rays of the red sun, ready to sink into an ocean of prehistoric darkness. The air was thick with the unspoken desires of life.
In the Cave of Dreams, Dombo 562, also known to his disciples as Zosar, had gathered the little hormigitas around a holographic projection of the Sigma-Psi 547 system, a conglomeration of five murky planets revolving around a young sun somewhere in the Xygnis galaxy. Zosar was introducing his disciples to the secrets of each planet, its stage of development and potential. In a few months the hormigitas will depart to one planet or another, to help the Friaks with biosphere creation. That’s what they were all built for. That’s what Zosar himself had to do in his early years, now muffled like a distant voice in a dream. That’s what has been done for generations. Now it’s the Friaks, back then it was some other civilization whose name had long lost meaning to Dombo, but the mission had always been the same: help the cosmic process of creation. It’s been done by distilling the genetic information of all known life forms and depositing it, together with the paradigms of their evolution, into a single ball of pure essence. The Pearls of Life. The greatest act of creation this side of the universe. Each instructor like Zosar – and there’d been hundreds like him – had been given seven pearls to watch over and activate when the time comes. It’s been a great honor that came with serious responsibilities, to play the role of god omnipotent for a whole new world, with its entire biosphere and all its creatures, for all the generations to come. Each pearl had to be activated on the planet it was programmed for, when conditions reached their most beneficial state. If released on the wrong place, the new life forms will not survive in conditions they were not programmed for. And if released on a planet which already had life of its own, this would create an inevitable conflict between the resident and the new life forms with consequences hard to predict. It was against the ethical and professional code of any self-respecting civilization… All this and more Zosar had been explaining to the hormigitas for months. He wanted to make absolutely sure that this wave of disciples will carry out their mission properly, just like every wave before. He didn’t have a single failed mission and he saw no reason why this should change.
Suddenly a chilling shriek cut the air with a thin blade. So profoundly hopeless and desolate, as if it wounded the very time and infected it with despair. It made even Dombo’s circuits twitch with an unknown sensation – he might call it fear but it would sound as irrelevant to his nature as hope or lust or any other emotion. Dombo 562 was a machine - the most complicated and perfect one - but no more than that. He was capable of developing any living being’s sensation if he wanted – and for some of his missions he did, he had to in order to grasp the mission better. He was programmed to evolve in a totally conscious and selective way. He could emulate the psyches of all the civilizations he’d met, and even choose which side would prevail in his ‘ego’, positive or negative. If he wasn’t satisfied with the result, he could erase any or all of the parameters. And still it was no more that a simulated instance of feelings, an instance of a ‘virtual self’ constructed with electrical impulses running through his circuits at a given frequency. He didn’t have any idea why or when a feeling should rise in him, what events should provoke it. He could display emotions with all the proper manifestations but not ‘feel’ them. That’s why he couldn’t really sense fear when the shriek resonated inside him. But his circuits responded anyway, because the horror of that sound went way beyond any living thing. As if it was threatening the very logic of Creation – order versus chaos, matter versus un-matter, existence versus non-existence. Never had such a thing happened before, and try as he might, Dombo couldn’t analyze the nature of the sound. He scanned through his vast database of memories, simulated emotions and sensations on both light and dark side. He couldn’t find anything similar to this negative energy with the power of erasing the very existence. Obviously some new force has come into the equation. Obviously neither Dombo nor the Friaks could do anything to stop this evil. But he must try, even if that would be his end. Something told him that the Creation itself was threatened and soon the Pearls of Life and the whole mission could turn irrelevant. All this took him no more that a few seconds to consider, and he turned to his disciples, the hormigitas, while the last echoes of the sound still resounded in the air.
‘We must cut this lesson short, kids. You all heard what I heard – I can see some of you still trembling with the horror of that sound. I now have a new mission, more important than everything I tried to teach you. Whatever this thing is, it’s threatening Life, and I must stop it!’
‘We wanna help!’... ‘We can’t let you go alone’ … ‘Let me come with you, teacher!’ … ‘Don’t leave us behind!’ … the little hormigitas went wild with excitement.
‘No, kids. My mission is a lone one. I might not return from it. But you – you’re too important to be lost. You should remember what I taught you and keep the process of Creation running. You must protect the pearls with your lives and activate them when the time comes – only when the time comes, remember! Now goodbye, my disciples, and wish me luck!’
With these words Dombo 562 Zosar dashed out of the cave and plunged himself into the dark abyss of primeval boiling matter. The hormigitas remained inside the cave, hushed with fear, numb with the vague feeling that something irreversible had just happened, and they would never see the Zosar again.